Upset over their pay, nearly 1,500 Metro Nashville Public Schools employees called out sick for work Friday.
Friday’s “sick-out ” includes 1,093 teachers and over 400 staff members for a total of 1,431 at least 18 schools. This represents a 21%increase in teacher absences over this date last year, according to a statement from Metro Nashville Public Schools.
“We are monitoring this closely and developing plans to assist schools that may need additional supports as a result,” said MNPS Interim Director Adrienne Battle. “We have substitutes and Central office teams working with schools to manage classes where teachers are out.”
McGavock High School has the largest concentration of teacher absences at 125. The school’s total teaching staff is 141, reported the district.
The district said not all of the absences reported are related to the “sick out” demonstration designed to bring awareness to teacher pay.
A breakdown of the top five reasons listed for the 1,093 teacher absences include:
• Personal Illness – 536
• Personal Leave – 175
• Family Illness – 93
• Professional Leave – 72
• Bereavement Leave – 27
Many parents who dropped off their students at McGavock would later return to pick them up. Some students could be seen hanging out in the parking lot while others just went home.
Metro Public Schools told News 2 that some of the students were taking tests while others were grouped together and given daily assignments.
Students, however, said they were given movies to watch or were just sitting around.
The teacher “sick-out” comes just days after Mayor David Briley revealed his budget for Metro Schools at his State of Metro address where he proposed $28 million for Metro Schools, a far cry from the more than 76 million the school board had asked for.
Briley proposed a 3% salary increase while teachers have asked for 10%.
“We are pleading with you to make sure the number one priority when it comes to the budget is getting more money into the hands of our teachers and support staff this year,” said Mayor David Briley, during his State of Metro speech, Tuesday.
Thursday, with hundreds of teachers threatening a sick day, Metro’s education committee chair, Steve Glover, offered a second opinion.
“It’s like we slapped them in the face, with what we gave them,” he said.
Glover called the offer an insult and a joke. Since teachers received no pay increase last year, according to Glover this doesn’t make up for it.
“That’s 1.5% over a two-year period which does not even keep up with inflation,” he said.
Metro teachers have repeatedly asked for a 10 percent raise, pleading to the school board in early March over dangerous working conditions in classrooms.
“When we have students who erupt in violent outbursts at the drop of a dime, we have to have the staffing that allows for instruction to continue while that student de-escalates outside of the classroom,” said one teacher.
Glover also suggested cutting non-essential services to come up with more money.