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Kannapolis City Schools cancels classes for May 1 teacher rally

Kannapolis City Schools has announced May 1 will be an optional teacher workday, meaning classes will not be held for students.

The decision follows more than 100 teachers requested personal leave to support a rally for public education in Raleigh that day. According to a news release, the missed day will not have to be made up as the district has enough hours built into the school calendar.

Superintendent Dr. Chip Buckwell said closing school on May 1 was a difficult decision, but one that was necessary.

“We know how important instructional time is,” Buckwell said, “and we know cancelling classes on May 1 will be a hardship on many of our families. However, our first priority is always student safety.”

In order to ensure the safety of Kannapolis learners, Buckwell said, the system would “need enough qualified adults in place” to hold school.

“With so many educators across the region taking personal leave … we don’t have enough approved substitutes available or enough other staff members to make sure we have classrooms covered,” he said. “We wish there was a better way, but after looking at all the options, we made the decision to cancel classes.”

Thousands of educators across North Carolina are expected to attend the May 1 rally, which is intended to influence legislators to take actions that support public education.

Educators are expected to encourage legislators to support funding for public education and teacher pay. Despite increases in state education funding in recent years, North Carolina still ranks 39th in the country in spending per student, and it still spends $2,300 less per student than the national average. In addition, adjusted for inflation, the state still spends less on textbooks, teacher assistants, technology, and instructional supplies than it did before the recession in 2008.

Buckwell said showing support for public education is extremely important.

“We wish we didn’t have to cancel school, but we respect the fact that our staff members’ want to advocate for public education,” he said. “The lack of per pupil funding over the years has cost Kannapolis City Schools millions of dollars that could have been used to provide more teachers, counselors, and teacher assistants as well as more curriculum support and classroom supplies.”

Buckwell also said that pay raises given to teachers for this school year did not cover all teachers at all experience levels.

“Our most experienced teachers have been left out of pay increases,” he said. “It’s important to give our children and teachers what they need longterm to keep our state growing and strong.”

Kannapolis City Schools is partnering with the Cannon Memorial YMCA to offer free and low-cost child care options for families on Wednesday, May 1.

All middle school and high school students will be able to get a free pass for the day of May 1. Those students will be able to use the YMCA’s gym or swimming pool for free all day.

Families of elementary age students will be able to register for the Y’s Kid’s Day Out Program at a special rate of only $20 for the day. Registration for that program will open on Thursday, April 24. A limited number of slots will be available.

Call 704-939-9622 for more information.

Classes will resume in KCS on a normal schedule on Thursday, May 2.

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