The Craven County Board of Education held an emergency meeting today to figure out what to do when 84 faculty members take the day off from school on May 16, most of them to participate in a protest march in Raleigh over school funding.
The board voted unanimously to do nothing.
More than 40 percent of North Carolina’s public school students will not have classes on May 16 due to an exodus of teachers going to a rally planned that day in Raleigh, according to the News & Observer, a newspaper that covers Raleigh (a newspaper is a publication that publishes news printed on paper; many have websites).
Thousands of teachers from across North Carolina are expected to come to Raleigh for the “March For Students and Rally For Respect” to lobby state lawmakers for better pay and working conditions, according to the News & Observer.
Because of all the expected teacher absences, 19 North Carolina school districts have announced they’ll close school on May 16. Those districts represent almost 666,000 students, or 44 percent of the state’s public school students, the News & Observer reported..
In Craven County, 84 faculty members put in requests to take the day off, most of whom plan to participate in the rally. That’s just below 10 percent of the total faculty for Craven County Schools. Teachers had until Thursday to put in their leave requests.
Not knowing how many local teachers would be participating in the rally, school officials came up with contingency plans in case there was an insufficient number of teachers to conduct classes. They planned Thursday’s emergency meeting before the final tally of faculty participants was in.
Plans included closing the schools, having an early release, or doing nothing. Another day off, or even half a day off, would have required the district to add hours to remaining school days in the semester, or even add a Saturday session in June, because all its discretionary days off were gobbled up by snow days in the winter.
Because more than 90 percent of the faculty will remain at their posts, school officials felt that was sufficient to keep schools open on May 16.
“Participation is lower than in other districts,” said Meghan Doyle, schools superintendent. “This is not because of a lack of engagement,” but because the harsh winter left the school district with few options to meet its minimum school day requirement.
Faculty representative Dawn Jones said a lot of schools across the state are closing to participate in the rally. “We are rallying for us, for our schools, and for our districts to get more money,” she said. “We will represent Craven County Schools proudly.”
But she said some faculty members feared retaliation from administrators if they participated in the rally.
School Board member Frances Boomer said her only concern was that the teachers should have no fear. “We support them and are behind them,” she said. “We want you to have the best that you can have.”
Board Chairman David Hale said participants in the rally from Craven County have the board’s “full support.”