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Organizer Believes Arizona Teachers Will Vote to Authorize Strike

Organizer Believes Arizona Teachers Will Vote to Authorize Strike”

Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo said they are working on a contingency plan to keep buses on skeleton routes and buildings open for those students that depend on school meals.

"There's been a lot of mobilization by the community to prepare", Simek said.

The potential for Arizona educators to walk out en masse is causing some confusion about how school districts would respond.

The Scottsdale Unified School District was finalizing information, spokeswoman Erin Helm said Thursday.

By 2015, the state was struggling to retain trained teachers as longtime educators left the profession for jobs that would allow them to make ends meet. One of the members of the coalition leadership team, Kelley Fisher, a kindergarten teacher at Las Brisas Elementary School, showed teachers how to make a secure ballot box in a video on the group's Facebook page.

The potential for the first statewide walkout is complicated by the possible fallout in this right-to-work state, where unions do not collectively bargain with school districts and representation is not mandatory. Since the Great Recession, the state's teachers have consistently ranked in the bottom five states for take-home pay and top five in the country for class sizes.

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The origins of the threatened strike are complex and specific to the state, but there are parallels to other teacher's strike movements happening in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky. The Arizona Education Association, the largest teacher membership group, said the opinion led it to inform its 20,000 members of the risks of a walkout.

Arizona teachers are conducting another round of protests outside schools as they weigh whether to escalate their push for more school funding by walking out of their classrooms. A grass-roots group that's mobilized tens of thousands of teachers says Ducey's plan doesn't address other needs, including raises for support staff and a return to pre-Great Recession school funding levels. But others are concerned about finding the money to cover a plan that would cost about $650 million when fully implemented.

The walkout vote comes after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey offered teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020.

"The broad consensus is, 'We want to see a pay raise, '" he said. Many in the public may consider 20 percent a big raise, he said.

Ashley Hobbs, who teaches English at Dobson High School in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, was skeptical that a walkout was the best move forward.



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