SC teacher walkout scheduled for Wednesday; local school districts issue statement

CSRA News
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AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — An online group is calling for teachers to take Wednesday, May 1 off.  Officials in Aiken County School District say staff can use personal days.

Online teacher group SC for Ed is calling for teachers to take the day off Wednesday to march on the Statehouse and demand better pay, smaller class sizes and a guaranteed break not watching children. The group calls it, “a day of reflection.”

“Our responsibility is to ensure that schools are open and operating in accordance with the law, as well as ensuring that instructional time is protected for students during this critical time of year,” Director of Communications of Aiken County Schools Merry Glenne Piccolino said. “With that being said, teachers and staff may use personal days for any manner they see fit, in accordance with policy,” she added.

Aiken County officials added that while deliberations are ongoing in Columbia, Aiken County Public School’s local budget received first reading approval this week and is “favorable to our teachers and schools, with at least a 4% cost-of-living adjustment and many requested additions of staff to support schools.”

Meantime, Edgefield County staff absences for May 1 are normal. “ECSD is following its employee’s Personal Leave policy for May 1, 2019. Presently, the district’s employee absences for May 1, 2019 are in the normal range,” Superintendent Dr. Kevin O’Gorman said in a statement.

State Superintendent Molly Spearman released a statement Monday saying she can’t support teachers who are “walking out on their obligations” to the state’s students.”Instead, I will be walking into the classroom of an absent teacher to serve as a substitute. I am not doing this to help facilitate the walkout, but rather to do all I can to ensure as many students as possible receive the instruction they deserve,” she said. 

Governor Henry McMaster and some of his fellow Republican legislative leaders say the walkout sends the wrong message.

The march to and around the statehouse grounds is expected to kick off at 9:45 a.m.  A number of guest speakers including Bakari Sellers, Lisa Ellis, and Louise Brown are expected to speak.

Shawn did try reaching out to other districts within the CSRA viewing area, Allendale County School District, Bamberg County School Districts 1 and 2, Barnwell County School Districts 45 and 19 and McCormick County School.  He hasn’t heard back yet. 

Meanwhile, South Carolina’s seventh largest school district, Dorchester School District 2,  is calling off classes Wednesday.  According to the Associated Press, more than half the teachers have asked for the day off at some schools. 

Dorchester joins school districts in Chester County,  Colleton County, Lexington-Richland 5, Richland 1 and 2, and Sumter County in closing Wednesday.

FULL STATEMENTS

AIKEN COUNTY SCHOOLS

Aiken County Public Schools’ board and leadership honor the rights of employees to respectfully advocate for causes of importance to them.

While deliberations are ongoing in Columbia, Aiken County Public School’s local budget received first reading approval this week and is favorable to our teachers and schools, with at least a 4% cost-of-living adjustment and many requested additions of staff to support schools. 

Our responsibility is to ensure that schools are open and operating in accordance with the law, as well as ensuring that instructional time is protected for students during this critical time of year. With that being said, teachers and staff may use personal days for any manner they see fit, in accordance with policy.

Aiken County’s teachers and employees are ONE TEAM dedicated to doing what is best every day, including May 1, for those in the classrooms and communities they serve. 

EDGEFIELD COUNTY

I believe that our focus in Edgefield County should be on the safety and instruction of our students each and everyday.  I also firmly believe that teachers should be involved in crafting solutions to the challenges facing education in South Carolina.  We strive to collaborate with teachers, support staff, and administrators to meet the safety and instructional needs of our students on a regular basis. ECSD is following its employee’s Personal Leave policy for May 1, 2019. Presently, the district’s employee absences for May 1, 2019 are in the normal range.

Dr. Kevin O’Gorman
ECSD Superintendent

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