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What to do with your kids on the day of the teacher rally? GOP offers up Coconut Charlie's.

Wake County closes schools May 16 so teachers can attend rally.

Monika Johnson-Hostler, Chair of the Wake County School Board, announced that schools would close on May 16th because so many teachers requested the day off to go to a protest in Raleigh.
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Monika Johnson-Hostler, Chair of the Wake County School Board, announced that schools would close on May 16th because so many teachers requested the day off to go to a protest in Raleigh.

Are you looking for a place to spend May 16 because school is closed due to all the teachers protesting in Raleigh?

The North Carolina Republican Party and the Wake County Republican Party are inviting families to spend the day with them at Coconut Charlie's Bump N Bounce at 7409 Six Forks Road in Raleigh. The GOP says the free event is meant to assist parents during the "Teacher Walkout Day." Just don't expect to be able to leave your child there and pick them up.

"Last year, North Carolina was ranked No. 1 in the US for fastest rising teacher pay, and we're going to be offering another raise this year," N.C. GOP vice chairman Michele Nix said in a written statement. "The General Assembly is working steadfast on their teacher appreciation agenda, but we wanted to offer something today for parents to deal with this unexpected school closure."

Thousands of teachers from across North Carolina are expected to come to Raleigh next week for the "March for Students and Rally for Respect" to lobby state lawmakers for better pay and working conditions.

Because of all the expected teacher absences, 16 school districts will close on May 16, including Wake County, Durham, Johnston County, Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County.

The march is organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators, which is highly critical of the education and tax policies of the Republican-led General Assembly.

Republicans, including State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson, Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, have criticized the decision to hold the rally on a school day.

"A Democrat Governor and Democrat lawmakers were the ones that voted to cut teacher pay and furlough teachers," Wake County GOP chairman Charles Hellwig said in a statement. "Republicans are cleaning up the Democrat's attacks on teachers by improving the economy and offering five straight years of teacher pay raises, including the largest in state history.

"That's why this decision to close school for a political rally and inconvenience parents seems so out of touch in North Carolina."

The cancellation of classes means that the families of more than 600,000 students have to make alternative child care arrangements for May 16. Groups such as the YMCA of the Triangle and the Raleigh Parks Department are offering programs.

The GOP-sponsored event is open to all families, regardless of political affiliation. There will be two sessions, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., for children ages 3-12 years old. Parents must remain with their children.

Food will be available for purchase, and Republican volunteers will also be staffing a study room to assist students with homework.

To attend, families must RSVP at https://bit.ly/2G02uYl.

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