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About 1,000 Nashville teachers miss school again in pay dispute

Updated 2:28 PM ET, Mon May 6, 2019

(CNN) - Nashville teachers are sick of their low pay, so hundreds have called out sick.

For the second day, about 1,000 teachers missed school Monday amid angst over Nashville Mayor David Briley's proposed budget.

Briley called for 3% cost of living adjustment for teachers and staff. But teachers want a 10% raise, according to a Change.org petition signed by over 1,600 people.

"The national average salary for teachers is $56,000," middle school teacher Megan Baker told CNN affiliate WSMV. "This is my ninth year in Metro Nashville Public Schools. I don't make over $50,000. I have a master's degree."'

Organizers say they're also fighting for a $15 minimum wage for support staff and a $1-per-hour raise for school bus drivers.

On Friday, about 1,093 teachers were absent, Metro Nashville Public Schools said. Some cited personal illness, while others cited family illness, personal leave, professional leave or bereavement.

McGavock High School had the largest concentration of teacher absences at 125. That's more than 88% of the school's entire teaching staff.

"We are monitoring this closely and developing plans to assist schools that may need additional support as a result," MNPS Interim Director Adrienne Battle said. She said substitute teachers and central office employees are trying to help cover the teacher shortage.

With the requested 10% raise nowhere in sight, over 900 teachers missed school again Monday. More than 600 said they were sick, district spokeswoman K. Dawn Rutledge said.

But organizers of Nashville's "TeachersAreSick" campaign say educators will be back in class Tuesday.

What's happening in Nashville is part of a nationwide wave of teachers' protests that started in West Virginia last year and keeps spreading like wildfire this year.

Last week, thousands of teachers in North and South Carolina went to their state capitols instead of classrooms, demanding more mental health counselors, higher pay and more money for support staff.


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