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HUSD schools remain closed

Humboldt Unified School District teachers gather along Highway 69 in Prescott Valley as teachers across Arizona stage a walkout, forcing school closures, seeking more pay and restored funding for education Thursday, April 26, 2018. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Humboldt Unified School District teachers gather along Highway 69 in Prescott Valley as teachers across Arizona stage a walkout, forcing school closures, seeking more pay and restored funding for education Thursday, April 26, 2018. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Schools will be closed for a fifth day Wednesday in the Humboldt Unified School District, impacting students and parents, and possibly resulting in an extension of the school year.

On Tuesday, May 1, HUSD teachers and supporters once again lined Highway 69 in red shirts and posters, protesting low pay and lack of state support.

Superintendent Dan Streeter said Tuesday afternoon the district’s schools will remain closed May 2. He said he continues to review state requirements for instructional minutes to determine what actions may be necessary in terms of extending the school year.

Schools in Prescott, Chino Valley and Mayer, as well as local charters, returned to normal schedules Monday and Tuesday.

“As of (Tuesday), we will be able to meet (required hours) by adjusting some Wednesday schedules and reviewing other early dismissal dates,” Streeter said.

Streeter has been “monitoring reported absences” by teachers. “We told our community we would get word out by 4:30 p.m. (Tuesday).”

A high reported number of planned absences was a deciding factor in closing district schools through Wednesday. While communications with teachers has been good, Streeter had no comment when asked why teachers planned to walk out of classes this week.

Closing schools has had an impact on activities. Some field trips have been rescheduled, other events have been canceled. Most planned special events have not been impacted, he said.

At Humboldt Elementary School, Pioneer Day scheduled for May 4 was canceled. Woody Wampler, one of the Dewey-Humboldt Historical Society organizers of the event, teaches gold panning to the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders. It is what it is, he said, with disappointment.

“It’s such a shame for the kids. It’s not hurting the teachers. The kids are the ones losing out on it,” Wampler said about the day of special programs that teach local history.

A scheduled April 26 track meet at Mountain View Elementary School also was canceled.

Bradshaw Mountain High School art teacher Helen Hyatt said some Advanced Placement teachers continue to meet with their students to help students prepare for exams.

Hyatt and another teacher delivered students’ artwork to Clarkdale on Monday so students might have the opportunity to earn scholarships.

Streeter said having a state budget approved as soon as possible would help teachers and districts, he added. “It’s unprecedented times.”

At the state capitol, Republican lawmakers took the first steps Monday to providing a 9 percent raise this coming year for teachers. But not necessarily all teachers.

The final version of the budget deal negotiated between GOP leaders and Gov. Doug Ducey puts $273 million into the $10.4 billion spending plan for the coming year specifically for teacher pay hikes.

But unlike Ducey’s original proposal, each school district will get its share as a bulk dollar amount. That leaves it up to board members to decide how to divide it up.

Ducey maintains 5 percent raises will come in the next two years, giving teachers a total increase of 19 percent.

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