NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Metro Nashville Public Schools tells News4 that nearly 1000 teachers were out for a variety of reasons Monday.
For the second day, McGavock High School experienced the largest number of teacher absences. However, those absences dropped from 124 on Friday to 87 on Monday. Other schools reporting higher than-normal absences included Hillsboro High School (42), Hunters Lane High School (31), Thurgood Marshall Middle School (30), and Two Rivers Middle School (18).
It’s not clear whether Monday’s absences are related to the “sick-out” on Friday when 1,400 teachers were out demanding better pay. Those teachers in charge of the sick-out have since announced that they will return to the classroom on Tuesday but "will continue to fight for fully funded education in Nashville..."
The school board would not elaborate if any of Monday's absences were due to the sick-outs, but did say some had to do with personal illness, family illness, professional leave, personal leave, and bereavement.
Well over one hundred teachers have registered for a sick day on Friday, May 3rd, at McGavock High School.
A Twitter page titled @SickTeachers stated that teachers would be sick on Monday and warned parents and students to plan accordingly.
1,400 Metro Nashville teachers stayed home Friday. Now the big question-will teachers use their remaining sick days to miss the rest of the school year?
Teachers were protesting Mayor David Briley’s budget that gives them a 3% pay raise. The teachers want a 10% raise.
“The national average salary for teachers is $56,000,” sixth grade social studies teacher at Head Middle Magnet School, Megan Baker said. “This is my ninth year in Metro Nashville Public Schools, I don’t make over $50,000. I have a masters degree.”
Baker has been fighting for better teacher pay.
“I did help lead some walk-ins with the Red4Ed movement,” Baker said.
Baker says she didn’t participate in Friday’s “sick-out” but says she took steps to try and get their message heard.
“I have personally contacted the council members, the school board members, the vice Mayor and even the Mayor,” Baker said.
Baker says it’s not just about cost of living raises, it’s also better resources and support for schools and students.
“Our bus drivers are underpaid, but then in addition to that we need more support in our schools. We need trauma counselors. I can’t even tell you how many days not only am I in the middle of teaching but I’m in the middle of de-escalating someone too,” Baker said. “There’s plenty of classrooms in Metro Nashville Public Schools that don’t have tangible books.”
Reverend Venita Lewis says she’s seen the need firsthand as a substitute teacher.
“It takes you five minutes of walking into the system to realize the system is broken,” Lewis said. "We hear it in your news and every news in this city, that we're on the rise but yet our educational systems for our children is failing."
Baker says the city giving schools and teachers more money and resources will help with teacher recruitment and keeping teachers here.
"I absolutely do hope for a great resolution. I hope that teachers don't have to continue to have to miss school to try to have their voices heard,” Baker said. “Teachers are trying to advocate on the behalf of their students, and it's not just about them, and it's not just about a cost of living raise, it's about fully funding education."
Briley told News4 on Saturday that the city is working on a multi-year plan to make sure teachers get to a pay level that is equivalent to their status in the community.
A change.org campaign has been created in support of the teachers.