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Teacher walkout won’t begin Friday, Chandler district tells parents

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — An email from a Chandler school district official told parents that teachers will not begin a walkout Friday, but an organizer with Arizona’s RedforEd movement said they would not know for certain until voting was completed.

The email went out Thursday, the final day teachers were voting on walking out long term. Results of the vote were expected to be announced in the evening.

Chandler Unified School District Superintendent Camille Casteel wrote, “We have been reassured by leaders of the movement that there is no walkout planned for Friday.”

Noah Karvelis, an advocate for Arizona Educators United, said that wasn’t necessarily true. “We don’t know yet what the results of the vote are,” he said.

Chandler wasn’t alone in suggesting parents wouldn’t need a backup plan for Friday. An email from Mesa Public Schools on Thursday afternoon said, “If the decision is made to walk out, we do not anticipate it happening tomorrow, Friday, April 20.”

The Arizona Education Association received a permit to hold an all-day event at the Arizona Capitol grounds on Friday. The group also has permits for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday of next week. In an email sent out

The teacher vote this week came after Gov. Doug Ducey, in response to ongoing teacher protests, released a plan last week to increase teacher pay by 20 percent in the coming years.

While the proposal met one of the teachers’ demands, some educators were skeptical about the sustainability of Ducey’s proposal.

In Ducey’s plan, teachers would see a 1 percent pay raise in fiscal year 2018, a 9 percent raise in fiscal year 2019 and then a 5 percent raise in both fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

The average teacher pay in Arizona is $48,723, according to Ducey.

If the Legislature passes the increase, Ducey said teachers would see their pay increase to an average of $52,725 by the upcoming school year and $58,130 by 2020.

Ducey also pledged $371 million in district assistance to provide flexible funding for schools to use on various improvement projects.

But some teacher advocacy groups are not happy with the proposal, stating that it just moves money around from existing budgets and relies on future projections for money the state could bring in. Save Our Schools and Arizona Education Association both came out against the proposal.

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