Guilford County educators mobilize for day in Raleigh

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NC Association of Educators President Mark Jewell hugs a teacher before a press conference at the Guilford County Schools Administrative Building. (photo by Jordan Green)

UPDATE: The Guilford County voted on Tuesday night to close schools on May 1, citing “an overwhelming number of requests for leave by teachers, school nutrition workers and bus drivers.” The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board also voted on Tuesday to close schools so employees can rally for better pay and other improvements in Raleigh.

ORIGINAL POST: Guilford County Schools employees are mobilizing along with their counterparts from across the state for the second annual March for Public Schools in Raleigh, on May 1.

“We are on a move, getting ready to mobilize to send thousands of people to Raleigh, just like we did on May 16 last year,” said Todd Warren, president of the Guilford County Association of Educators, as more than a dozen teachers stood behind him during a press conference on Tuesday at the Administrative Office in Greensboro.

The NC Association of Educators is making five demands to state lawmakers: funding student services, a $15 minimum wage for all classified employees and a 5-percent pay raise for all school employees, Medicaid expansion, reinstating retiree health benefits, and restoring advanced-degree pay.

Warren said about 1,150 certified teachers out of 4,800 employed with Guilford County Schools have already filed to take a personal day on May 1 to go to Raleigh, while about 170 counselors, social workers and other employees have also arranged to take the day off.

The educators are asking the Guilford County School Board and Superintendent Sharon Contreras to officially cancel classes on May 1. Durham County Schools, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools, Orange County Schools and Lexington City Schools have already canceled classes, but most of the big five systems, including Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Wake County Schools, have yet to make a decision.

“I would love for the Guilford County Board of Education, I would love for Dr. Contreras to show their support for Guilford County teachers by closing Guilford County Schools for that day,” said Jonathan Ball, a senior English teacher at Northern Guilford High School. “Please do so early enough for parents to make plans for childcare and to make sure we have meals provided for our kids. Last year they waited for the last couple days before May 16 to call it, and that put a lot of people in a lurch, and so it would be a great show of support for teacher action if the board and Dr. Contreras could come together and just announced that we’re gonna close.”

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