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Arizona teachers hold vigil as lawmakers debate

Arizona teachers hold vigil as lawmakers debate

The Scottsdale Unified School District in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale announced less than an hour later that its schools will reopen Friday.

While the budget deal proposed by Gov. DougDucey and state lawmakers falls short of the teachers' demands, Arizona teachers said Tuesday that they would end the strike this week if the plan was passed.

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.

The Republican-controlled Legislature was considering a state budget that promises the first installment of a 20 percent pay increase by 2020 and a partial restoration of cuts to education funding, but many teachers said if the lawmakers failed to act Wednesday, they would not go back to work. "They've got to get closure on this".

More significant, Ducey has agreed to an average 9 percent pay hike for teachers for the coming school year, with a 5 percent increase the following year and an identical increase the year after that.

Heather Fuentes, an administrative assistant in the Paradise Valley School District, gave an update on the walkout to about 80 parents and community members at a park. He said he does support the objectives of the so-called #RedforEd movement, with his schools facing a host of funding needs.

"Arizona teachers have earned a raise, and this plan delivers", Republican Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement issued as he signed the bill.

The Senate was expected to begin floor debate on the budget at 8 p.m., and the House expected similar timing.

With six words on social media, Gov. Doug Ducey said he has solved the teacher walk-out.

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"I agree we need more money for our schools, but walking out is only hurting my kids and my bottom line", Peoria resident Ray Brown said. "Our track record of delivering that promise has not always been ideal, so I don't think they wasted their time". The Republican Governors Association is already running ads touting Ducey as providing major new school funding "without raising taxes".

A key leader of the grassroots #RedforEd movement that called the strike over low teacher pay wasn't allowed to address the appropriations committee. From its beginnings in West Virginia, it spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and most recently Colorado.

They also fault Ducey and Republicans for the plan not providing dollars for support staff. Ducey said the $100 million he is restoring in additional district assistance comes with sufficient flexibility for school districts to use some - or all - of that for those employees.

Karvelis said the organization will make a final decision based on those answers, but said they will most likely continue their walk out on Thursday.

"We've got enough built in minutes to cover some time", said COCSD Superintendent Steve King.

Unable to convince Republicans to provide more cash for K-12 education, members of the #RedForEd movement told members late Tuesday to go back to work.

Arizona teachers are back at the state Capitol where the state Legislature is expected to pass a new budget to fund teacher raises.

Educators had to change their tactics after budget approval appeared imminent, association president Joe Thomas said.

The action came after a weeklong teachers' strike that shut down school for most of the state's 1.1 million public school students.

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