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Lexington superintendent plans ‘normal school day’ for May 1 teacher protest

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SC teachers are leaving the SC public school system at a rapid pace, deterred by factors from low pay to discipline issues in the classroom.
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SC teachers are leaving the SC public school system at a rapid pace, deterred by factors from low pay to discipline issues in the classroom.

The superintendent of Lexington 1 school district says school will be in session on the day of a planned teacher walk-out meant to rally for better pay and work place conditions.

Lexington 1 Superintendent Greg Little said in an email to parents: “We plan to have a normal school day and are working to make sure our classrooms are covered” on May 1.

The grassroots S.C. teachers’ group SCforED is organizing the May 1 protest which is being called #AllOutMay1.

The protest is planned as S.C. lawmakers run out of time to pass proposed reforms to improve South Carolina’s dismal public school system.

With the 2019 legislative session winding down, senators said Wednesday that a comprehensive education overhaul proposal — passed by the House earlier this year — has run out of time to pass and become law this year.

Teachers are slated to get at least a 4 percent pay raise next year, and lawmakers are working to cut down on state-required testing. But the General Assembly likely won’t pass other meaningful changes, such as proposals to reduce class sizes, which teachers argue should be a higher legislative priority.

“We know it is a sacrifice for educators to be out of their classrooms; however, not participating in this event will only allow the cycle of detrimental educational policy to continue in our state,” SCforED’s statement said. “Educators, now is the time to stand up for our students. It is time to stand up for ourselves.”

At least 1,400 people registered for the May 1 march, a number that could lead more districts to consider canceling classes or hiring substitute teachers. Chester County School District already said schools will be close May 1 because many teachers asked for the day off to attend the march.

In Little’s email, he said “some Lexington District One teachers plan to visit the statehouse to present their concerns about the current state of public education in South Carolina through a rally” and that the school district is “working to make sure our classrooms are covered.”

“Although we know that we will have teachers out that day, this is an important time of year for students and their learning,” Little wrote. “Every day, students come to school to learn, but they also receive nutritious meals, social and emotional support, and other services. We also know how difficult it is for parents to make plans for childcare when we need to close schools for unexpected weather or other events.”

MIDLANDS DISTRICTS RESPOND TO MAY 1 RALLY

Richland 1: canceling classes.

Students can still go to the following schools from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to receive a meal: Arden, Bradley, Brockman, Burton-Pack, Carver-Lyon, Caughman Road, Greenview, Hopkins, Hyatt Park, A.C. Moore, South Kilbourne, Edward E. Taylor, John P. Thomas and Watkins-Nance, St. Andrews, A.C. Flora, C.A. Johnson, Eau Claire and Lower Richland.

In a statement district Superintendent Craig Witherspoon said, “It is our responsibility to ensure that our students are safe and well supervised. ... We have looked at the number of leave requests submitted across the district and determined that we would not have enough substitute teachers and staff members to cover all of those classrooms.”

Richland 2: not considering closing schools.

Lexington 1: not considering closing schools. The district said fewer than 50 certified teachers had requested permission to be absent. However, some of those absences could be for requests made before the rally was organized, she said.

Lexington 2: not canceling classes

Lexington 3: no plans to cancel classes

Lexington-Richland 5: closing schools

Kershaw: not considering closing schools. In a Wednesday memo shared with district employees, district Superintendent Shane Robbins said while he agrees the state is behind the curve in education and teachers’ demands are valid, he goes not agree with a walk out. “It will cause most districts, ours included, to shut down,” he wrote. “Who suffers? Most definitely our students.”

Colleton: closing schools

Dorchester 2: closing schools

Staff writers Maayan Schechter and Jamie Self contributed to this report.

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.

Maayan Schechter (My-yawn Schek-ter) covers the S.C. State House and politics for The State. She grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. She has previously worked at the Aiken Standard and the Greenville News.

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