PHOENIX (AP) - Nine schools in a 12-school elementary school district serving parts of Avondale, Glendale and Phoenix are closed because approximately 300 teachers are teachers are participating in a protest over pay.
Pendergast Elementary School District spokeswoman Nedda Shafir (shuh-FEER') says school is out for thousands of students because Wednesday's protest means the affected schools lacked enough teachers to supervise students.
The district was reportedly OK with the walkout for a day, and parents were warned in advance with robocalls that told them to not send their kids to school Wednesday.
Over a hundred teachers were marching at the State Capitol in Downtown Phoenix as part of the RedforED movement. urging Gov. Doug Ducey and legislators to provide funding for teacher pay raises.
Picket signs at #RedForEd rally at Arizona State Capitol. Over 100 teachers marching for higher pay; threatening statewide strike if Republican-dominated state govt. doesn’t boost salaries to at least mid-range of all states. @Fox10_Jedi #Fox10Phoenix pic.twitter.com/7EGeXEjntC— Steve Krafft Fox 10 (@SKrafftFox10) March 21, 2018
Shafir says some teachers called in sick, while others took personal days. The spokeswoman says the district supports its teachers and has provide pay raises ranging from 2 to 7 percent but did not organize or encourage the protest.
Hearing that HALF of the Pendergast school district is closing today due to teacher sick-out/ walk-out— Marcy Jones Fox 10 (@MarcyJonesFox10) March 21, 2018
Villa de Paz
Some schools asking parents to pick up students..
The message at the protest was simple: teachers are not making a livable wage.
"I am being paid, with all extras $40,000 after 25 years. Yes. After 25 years, and I am still paying student loans," said Robin Shipley.
The sickout on Wednesday was the last move in efforts to catching Gov. Ducey's attention, but it managed to catch someone else's eyes.
"I think it sends a really big message that teachers are tired of not making a livable wage. People are getting burned out working two, three jobs just to pay the bills, and that shouldn't be for teachers," said Elisabeth Milich, the elementary school teacher whose Facebook post that revealed her $35,000 salary took Arizona's education issue to a national level.
"The publicity that happened with my post, I had no idea that it would take off the way it did," said Milich.
Meanwhile, parents who couldn't send their kids to school Wednesday were supportive, to a point.
"I think the teachers need help, but it takes away from the kids," said Christina Garza. "I have a child who struggles now. My son gets a little bit of the repercussion, but I do understand why they are doing it."
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.