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Johnston County joins school systems closing May 16 because of teacher protest

NC teachers voice concerns about GOP's budget and the quality of education in the Tar Heel state

Video: Lee County school teacher Sandi Shover is one of many educators to speak out about budget cuts to education and how it affects teachers.
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Video: Lee County school teacher Sandi Shover is one of many educators to speak out about budget cuts to education and how it affects teachers.

The Johnston County school system has joined the growing list of North Carolina school systems that are canceling classes on May 16 because so many teachers plan to take the day off to protest in Raleigh.

Johnston County school officials announced Wednesday that May 16 will become an optional teacher workday and will be closed for its 35,983 students. School leaders cited the increasing numbers of teachers who've chosen to take personal leave on May 16..

“Without the presence of our teachers, normal operations will be disrupted and create possible issues regarding the order of our school day,” Johnston County Superintendent Ross Renfrow said in a statement.

Thousands of teachers from across North Carolina are expected to come to Raleigh on May 16 for the "March For Students and Rally For Respect" to lobby state lawmakers for better pay and working conditions

At least 17 school districts and one charter school have announced they'll close for students on May 16, including Wake, Durham and Orange counties and Chapel-Hill Carrboro.

Johnston County's announcement comes a day after State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson said he hopes more school districts will not close on May 16. Johnson questioned the decision to hold the protest on a school day.

Johnston is more conservative politically than its neighboring school districts. School leaders on Wednesday stressed their support for the district's teachers.

"The Johnston County Board of Education supports its teachers, knowing that the work they perform is lasting and cannot afford to be marginalized," school board chairman Mike Wooten said in a statement. "For the record, the JCPS Board of Education is committed to its teachers, respects the work that builds and strengthens our future, and will continue to support that which advances teaching and learning in Johnston County, this state, nation, and world. Our teachers’ voice is important and valuable to us.”

In the coming days, the district will provide notification of any rescheduled testing, special events, field trips and any other activities planned for May 16. Johnston County has more than 30,000 students.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui



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