Wake County News

Wake County to close schools on May 16 due to teacher rally

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - Wake County Public School System leaders decided Monday to close schools on May
16 due to a teacher rally that thousands of teachers across the state plan to attend in Raleigh.

That's the day the North Carolina General Assembly will reconvene for a short session.

Wake County school officials said about 2,500 teachers in the district had already requested time off from teaching to attend the rally. 

"As the numbers came in it became clear to us we weren't going to open schools that didn't have enough educators," explained school board chair, Monika Johnson-Hostler. 

Some parents said they've seen how badly teachers need resources.

"Classroom parents had to chip in to buy the teacher a new desk chair when her desk chair broke," said Mary Capps. She says she supports the teachers who will attend the rally. 

State lawmakers promise they are committed to education. Governor Roy Cooper released a video for Teacher Appreciation Week in which he said, "We need to make sure our teachers are well-prepared, well compensated."

An announcement from state Republican leaders said their spending plan will “keep their commitment to passing a fifth consecutive teacher pay raise.”

Some teachers argue that's not enough.

"I would challenge the General Assembly to think beyond teacher raises," said Kristin Beller, president-elect of the North Carolina Association of Educators. Beller said schools also need supplies, and funding for support staff. She helped organize the rally and hopes students will attend now that school's canceled. 

Not everyone is thrilled with the decision to cancel classes, though.   

"I'd just rather they be in school. I know it's not bad for me because I'm a stay at home mom but some of my friends work and it's hard to find last-minute drop in care," said Stevi Kovalik 

School leaders said some schools will remain open for students taking Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests, and some will provide bagged lunches for students who need it. 

May 16 will be an optional teacher workday, which means teachers who want to attend the rally will need to use a personal day, according to school district spokesperson, Lisa Luten.

Durham Public Schools, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools, Orange County Schools, and Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools will also close on May 16. More than 1,000 Durham teachers requested to use a personal day to travel to Raleigh in order to advocate for more money for education.

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