Nearly half the teachers in Phoenix's Murphy Elementary School District may have played hooky Monday to protest the steep pay cuts now being considered.

School officials confirmed 28 of the district's 60 teachers called out, although it's unknown if all of them did so in protest.

Carrie Hare, a teacher at Jack L. Kuban Elementary School who stayed home on Monday, said she and others wanted to send the district board a strong message.

Currently, the district is $2.1 million over budget for the current fiscal year that ends in July.

Jose Diaz, the superintendent of the Murphy Elementary School District, said the pay cuts are needed to get spending under control and keep the district from going into state receivership.

Late last month, the Maricopa County school superintendent's office sent Diaz a letter warning his district was headed in that direction if it didn't get their budget balanced by July.

While Diaz says he and other administrative staff will also see their salaries cut, teachers say they are bearing the brunt.

And like many teachers, Hare says it's unfair they should have their pay slashed when Diaz received a $12,000 performance bonus in December.

"You're going to take money away from my children, my family household ... yet you get a $12,000 bonus? $13,000 bonus? Wow, wow, thanks! Thanks," she said.

On Tuesday night, the Murphy Elementary School District Governing Board rejected a proposal to reduce pay for teachers by 5 percent.

"I'm happy with what happened tonight. Teachers don't deserve to go backwards [sic] in their pay. We got what we wanted and I hope this means we are going to move in the right direction," said Robert Rubino, a teacher.

However, the district said it only has enough money to fund operations through March.

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