Superintendent reacts to planned teacher walkout

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Arizona Superintendent of Education, Diane Douglas Arizona Superintendent of Education, Diane Douglas
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Arizona Superintendent of Education, Diane Douglas, released a statement Friday afternoon in response to the planned teacher walkout. 

Douglas is asking Arizona teachers to reconsider the state-wide walkout that's planned for Thursday, April 26. 

[READ MORE: Arizona teachers vote to walk out on Thursday, April 26 over education funding]

"I have long been a vocal proponent of providing teachers with significant pay raises," Douglas said. "No one has more respect for the jobs that teachers do, which is why I proposed a viable, meaningful increase in their salaries last year, as well as sustainable funding specifically for them and school facilities."

Douglas said the Arizona Department of Education will issue guidance in the coming days in preparation for the teacher walk outs. 

[RELATED: Exodus of teachers from Arizona classrooms]

"But if the teachers do not give the leadership at the Capitol the time to implement their salary increase, I’m afraid that striking will only hurt students and parents, while simultaneously setting back their own cause. I know that if we put the students first, we will be able to resolve all of our issues, and that is the role the Arizona Department of Education and I plan on playing until this issue is resolved," Douglas said.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Schools in Crisis]

The Department is already working with schools that have decided to remain open during the strike to provide free and reduced meals and guidance regarding the legal amount of annual instruction hours necessary for schools that close. 

[READ MORE: #RedForEd not slowing down despite pay hike proposal]

Douglas is calling on communities, businesses and faith-based organizations near schools that decide to close to help students who have nowhere else to go.

[RELATED: Parents concerned about what to do if there's a teacher walkout]

"It’s an absolute shame that it has come to this, but now that we are all in this situation, I hope that the teachers and Capitol leadership can rebuild trust and come together to resolve this matter as quickly as possible for the sake of our students," Douglas said.

The superintendent is expected to present more guidance and provide an update at the upcoming State Board of Education meeting on Monday, April 23.

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