Students, teachers return to class, months after #RedforED teacher walkout

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- As the state's #RedforED movement continues, school is about to start for many kids across the Valley.

In some school districts, students have begun their classes, and for teachers, it is back to business as usual. The teachers are getting ready to head back to work and start teaching, but they say that doesn't mean their fight for better pay and smaller class sizes is over.

Earlier in the year, many school districts across the state took part in a walkout that ended after a budget that provides pay raises for teachers was passed by state lawmakers. After intense protests, the fervor of the #RedforED movement has calmed down.

Teachers are instead busy prepping for their upcoming classes, but for some, there's still the elephant in the room.

"We're still short when you compare salaries to other states," said teacher Jeremy Muir.

Governor Ducey's plan would give teachers a 20% salary increase.

"Honestly this is my first year, so we were still in school when this was all happening, so I wasn't too much involved," said teacher Michelle Randle.

For more experienced teachers, like Muir, the increase is still not enough, and he says Arizona is even further behind on pupil spending.

"We need to kick that up quite a bit. We almost need to double it," said Muir. "I know that sounds crazy, but that's what we need to do."

For Randle, she admits she could use some help with school supplies.

"So far this year, I probably spent a little over $2,000 this year between pencils, decorations, markers, everything you would need for a classroom," said Randle.

However, being fresh out of ASU, Randle is just excited to teach her first class.

"I think things needed to happen on both ends, and the job got done," said Randle. "Kids will be back in school learning, and that's all that matters."

Meanwhile, Muir said he's also relieved things are going in the right direction, but there's still a long way to go.

"When you look at all the other salaries around us, the different states, when they're so far ahead of us, it's hard to retain and get good teachers," said Muir, who went on to say he's concerned about the sustainability of that salary increase, since there is no dedicated funding source for it.