CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox has designated May 1 as an optional teacher workday for the district and waived attendance requirements for all students.
The decision comes after the North Carolina Association of Educators President Mark Jewell confirmed the state’s largest teacher-lobbying group will hold a public education "Day of Action" on that day in Raleigh.
The protest is centered around better salaries and more resources for educators.
CMS said no makeup day will be needed.
Wilcox said the number of teachers and staff who will be absent May 1 is nearing 2,000, and district officials expect that number to rise as the day gets closer.
"The safety, security and quality of teaching and learning are top priorities for CMS because these are fundamental expectations shared by our community’s students, families and staff every day. At this time, we cannot guarantee sufficient substitute-teacher capacity to ensure these priorities and this decision is based on those considerations," Wilcox said.
Wilcox said he understands the impact this will have on CMS families.
“CMS will be working to ease the burden of a closed-school day,” he said. “We may not be able to fulfill all needs, but we will do our best in this community to collaborate and coordinate with area partners to support our families.”
CMS provided the following further details:
- Employees will be provided detailed guidance from human resources.
- After School Enrichment Programs at all schools will be canceled.
- Parents should check with their designated school on the status of field trips.
- All classroom tests will be rescheduled.
- High school athletic events will take place as scheduled.
- Middle school athletic events will be canceled and are rescheduled for May 13.
“The powerful voices of educators change student lives every day in classrooms across our community," Wilcox said. "Together, their collective voice will change communities across our state on May 1 as they advocate for investments in public education that matter most to our students and their futures.”
An estimated 19,000 people marched last May to the Legislative Building. They pressed unsuccessfully for Republican lawmakers to stop certain tax cuts that NCAE and ally Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said squeezed money from K-12 education. Jewell says NCAE efforts at the rally and in the fall helped elect favored lawmakers so the GOP no longer has veto-proof majorities.
Channel 9 has checked with other counties like Cabarrus and Gaston but so far, those districts said they haven't made any decisions yet either.
North Carolina's largest school system has joined a growing list of systems which are canceling classes on the day teachers across the state plan to gather for a rally.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports officials with the Wake County Public School System say nearly 2,000 teachers have already requested a day off on May 1 to join colleagues in Raleigh for a planned protest.
Other districts canceling classes on May 1 are Durham, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Orange County, Guilford County, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County and Lexington City Schools. At least 42 of the state's 115 school districts closed ahead of last year's protest.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson and Senate leader Phil Berger have criticized the decision to hold the protest on a school day, citing how students will miss classroom time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
© 2019 Associated Press