CHARLOTTE, N.C. — CMS superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox announced the district may very well have to cancel school on May 1, saying more than 1,200 teachers have now called out on that day to attend a teachers rally in Raleigh where they’ll demand better pay and resources for schools.
On Tuesday, Guilford County Schools became the fifth district in the state to officially cancel classes that day due to mass expected absences. Wake County Schools were added to the list on Wednesday.
At Tuesday’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools school board meeting, Wilcox said he’s not making the final call just yet, but with the number of teachers calling out for May 1, he admitted he can’t imagine finding enough substitutes to cover.
Last year, the streets of Raleigh flooded with teachers pushing for better pay and funding. That rally drew an estimated 19,000 people, forcing 40 school districts to close.
On May 1, organizers are planning to do it all again -- expecting a crowd even bigger than last year’s.
At the school board meeting, teachers urged CMS to cancel classes that day to free up educators to attend.
State superintendent Mark Johnson sent an email blast out to teachers asking them not to call out and force schools to close, saying students have already missed too much school due to weather-related events this year, and asking them to instead, “take action on a day when schools are not in session.”
Wilcox acknowledged the predicament.
“One of the things that we know is if CMS goes out, then some of the surrounding districts are likely to follow suit in stronger numbers," Wilcox said. "We want to make sure we do this with some thought and some care.”
Wilcox promised to announce a decision by the end of the week to give families time to prepare.
“Honestly, there are many families who can’t just afford another day off of work," Wilcox said. "Yet we understand, this board and others have talked about the importance of teacher voice. So we'll try to balance all those things in the next few days.”
The North Carolina Association of Educators said their demands for this year's rally include a 5 percent raise for staff, increased minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, expanded Medicaid, and more school psychologists and support staff.
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