Arizona teachers to get $300 million in raises


Most school districts had cited uncertainty about when the week-old teacher walkout over pay and education funding would end when they announced Wednesday that their schools would remain closed Thursday.

Organizers of the strike had called for classes to resume Thursday if the budget passed.

Ducey said that the teachers had earned a raise and praised that the law for the students and teachers; & ldquo; rdquo & an actual win. Teachers in those districts would still get raises, but they would be roughly 15.6 percent instead of the full 20 percent.

The raises will cost about $300 million in the next year.

"The Legislature's priority in this budget is crystal clear: K-12 education", House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said in a statement. Teachers wanted a return to pre-recession funding levels, regular raises, competitive pay for support staff and a pledge not to adopt any tax cuts until per-pupil funding reaches the national average. "His first offer was going to sweep funding from universities and public services that would impact our students, and now we've forced the Governor to create more sustainable revenue sources without cutting funding from those services", said Arizona Educators United organizer and Littleton music teacher Noah Karvelis. "If they did, we'd have $1.1 billion for education in this budget".

The Arizona Daily Star reports that approval of the pay hike came after several hours of debate in which the Republican majority in the legislature rejected several attempts by Democrats to add more money for public education to the state budget.

The Republican-controlled House and Senate moved in fits and starts all day as they worked on amendments to the budget deal leaders worked out with GOP Gov. Doug Ducey.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is hailing approval of budget legislation providing more than $300 million in raises for numerous state's striking teachers. "That is not just about teacher pay", Alston said.

"It's wonderful that we sit here and we try to call ourselves a hero after we've set the house on fire", said state Rep. Reginald Bolding, D-Phoenix.

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"We don't get to pat ourselves on the back", Friese said.

"You can't set a house on fire, call 911 and claim to be a hero, " he said.

But Rep. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, who sits on a school board, said these decisions should be left to local school boards. To keep lawmakers accountable, teachers took photos of the vote count screen revealing how many lawmakers voted to increase funding for private prisons or voting against expanding the definition of a teacher.

"We have all done our research, and so have the members in our communities", she said.

But, it does not meet all demands made by teachers who went on strike one week ago.

Allen also shot down another Townsend proposal which would impose $5,000 fines on districts that close schools on days they were supposed to be open. Thousands of Colorado teachers rallied at the state capitol Monday.

"You should not be able to do that to the people of this state because you want funding, " she said.

"I think we still have some things to work through but hopefully without any adverse affects to our students".

Sen. Steve Farley voted for the bill.