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Local #RedForEd leaders meet to plan their next move

Posted at 5:09 PM, Apr 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-14 20:09:33-04

Members of the Arizona Educators United met to plan what they call escalating actions -- including possible walkouts -- on Saturday.

This comes two days after Governor Doug Ducey announced a plan to give teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020.

Teacher groups say this offer falls short.

"Teachers have reached a point where we have to say we're not going to take it anymore," said Marea Jenness, a teacher at Tucson High School.

After 16 years at Tucson High teaching biology, Jenness can't stretch her paycheck any further. She and others are skeptical of Gov. Ducey's plan to give teachers a 20 percent raise.

"We need a constant funding stream that's dependable that doesn't matter who is in office, what legislature feels like that year," Jenness said.

In an exclusive interview, Gov. Ducey told KGUN9 the money comes from budget surplus fueled by a growing economy and falling state operational costs.

KGUN9's Kevin Boughton asked Gov. Ducey: "What if those funds dry up?"

Gov Ducey responded, "That's why we're being fiscally responsible so we're balancing our budget, we've got surplus funds, we're going to direct those where they deserve to be directed to our teachers."

Ducey’s proposal includes a nine percent boost in funding this year, which, coupled with a one percent raise already coming, makes for a ten percent raise before the start of the 2018-19 school year. Then a five percent raise each year for two years after that. It includes $371 million for District Additional Assistance, which is money districts can spend on items like busses, building maintenance, curriculum, and other items.

Teachers say the proposal leaves out support staff.

"Everyone who is touching a student's life every day in the schools should be receiving ample compensation as we've outlined in our demands," said Derek Harris, an AZ Educators United leader.

Ducey said the response he has gotten from teachers has been positive about his proposal.

Jenness isn't satisfied and wants funding restored levels from a decade ago.

Ducey still has to get his plan through the legislature. This was made more complicated after Republicans in the legislature announced a different plan.