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Arizona teachers may stay out again Thursday

Arizona teachers may stay out again Thursday

Arizona teachers may stay out again Thursday

State lawmakers are working on the budget that would increase pay for educators by 10 percent next year and make the first payment toward restoring almost $400 million slashed from school building and maintenance budgets since 2008.

The House was continuing to debate the budget package as sunrise approached Thursday morning but passage was assured.

The first-ever statewide teacher strike is dragging into another day today as many teachers have decided they're not quite ready to go back.

Roger Jacks, Kingman Unified School District superintendent, said in a brief note posted on the district's Facebook page around noon Wednesday that all schools in the district will be open Thursday. The Arizona Republic reports that as of this writing, more than a dozen districts had announced they would be canceling classes Thursday.

"We here in Arizona have banded together as educators, we've set up a grassroots movement with 1,700 schools involved, 1,700 liaisons, and if we're ever called to come back we will come back together and we'll come back stronger", middle school teacher Scott Gebbie said.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed part of a state budget plan that provides more than $300 million in raises for numerous state's striking teachers.

They're also pushing lawmakers for other considerations such as a 10 percent raise for support staff.

The proposal also forces $18 million in increases to local property taxes, mainly in Tucson and Phoenix, by cutting payments counties use to backfill high property taxes prompted by school desegregation agreements.

"Educators miss their students and want to be back in the classroom and schools, but we are walking out to keep the pressure on legislators and the Governor to pass a budget that funds the schools our students deserve", the group tweeted. Strike leaders had called for an end to the walkout if the budget passed Wednesday.

One Republican lawmaker upset about the strike proposed amendments to make it illegal for teachers to espouse political beliefs at work, to require the attorney general to investigate schools that allow political activity and to bar schools from closing during a walkout.

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Wednesday morning at the Capitol, Peoria High School teachers held a meeting on grassy stretch of lawn.

The bill was approved Wednesday afternoon with support only from majority Republicans.

Karvelis helped create Arizona Educators United with other teachers after a strike in West Virginia yielded a 5 percent pay raise.

During the news conference Tuesday, Noah Karvelis, one of the leaders of the movement, said the budget does not do enough.

"This budget does not do enough for our kids".

The Arizona Senate and House have begun debating a $10.4 billion state budget plan providing more than $300 million for raises for numerous state's striking teachers.

"There are hundreds of families contacting me that are harmed financially, occupationally", an emotional Rep. Kelly Townsend said.

For the fifth day, the Capitol was a sea of red. It crystallized public support, with demonstrations and "walk-ins" at public schools featuring perhaps 100,000 teachers and parents marching to show support for more funding for education.

Organizers said the walkout was a success due to the 150,000 people that hit the streets during the four days in downtown Phoenix and increased amount of money promised for education.

Teachers walked out last week hoping they could demand more funding from Gov. Doug Ducey and Republican lawmakers.

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