Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools will be closed for students on May 1, the day of a planned educators’ rally in Raleigh.
Educators and advocates made a push to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board Tuesday night to close for that day.
The board voted 7-2 in favor of making May 1 an optional work day. Members Dana Jones and Lori Clark voted against the measure.
Last year, WS/FCS joined several other districts across the state in closing for a rally on May 16, 2018, in Raleigh, but was one of the last of the larger, urban districts to do so.
As of Tuesday evening, 550 overall absences were requested for May 1, said Matt Dixson, director of human resources for the district. It took more than 1,000 before the district closed last year.
Many board members felt this number would only increase in the coming days, and decided preemptively to close.
“We feel that we have the support of our school board as well as our community and parents in this community, because they stood up with us and said yes, allow us to go to Raleigh on May 1 to advocate for our students, for our district and our educators,” said Ronda Mays, president of the Forsyth County Association of Educators.
Board members Elisabeth Motsinger, Deanna Kaplan, Barbara Burke, Andrea Bramer and Chairwoman Malishai Woodbury all said they would be in Raleigh with the educators on May 1.
“That’s just telling us how much they support us and how much they understand that when we work together we can make things happen,” Mays said.
Clark, along with board members Lida Calvert Hayes and Leah Crowley said they would not be able to attend, but that they support them. Jones said she supports them as well, but did not agree with the tactic being used.
So far, six school districts, including WS/FCS, have closed for May 1.
Lexington City Schools will not have school for students on May 1, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools‘ school board voted to make May 1 teacher work day, Durham Public Schools will have an optional teacher work day and Orange County Schools will have a teacher work day as well after the school board voted to do so.
And Guilford County Public Schools, the third largest district in the state, opted to close May 1, by way of a school board vote, as well.
There are five major requests that they will have to the North Carolina General Assembly: social workers, counselors and nurses to meet national standards; a $15 minimum wage for all school personnel, a 5 percent raise for teachers and administrators, and a 5 percent cost of living adjustment to retirees; Medicaid expansion for the health benefit of all students and teachers; restoring state retiree health benefits that were eliminated; and restoring compensation for advanced degrees.