Buncombe County schools on Friday announced they will be closed on Wednesday, the same day teachers from across North Carolina will rally at the state capitol in Raleigh. The district joins several other large public school systems in the state in closing that day, including Asheville City schools, which announced earlier this week it would be closing Wednesday.
In a statement, Buncombe County schools said so many teachers were planning to travel to Raleigh that day they were not able to find enough substitutes to cover for them. Asheville City schools gave similar reasoning for their decision to close. Buncombe County superintendent Dr. Tony Baldwin said in a statement, "We respect and value our teachers' commitment to advocating for education. Closing any of our schools is a complex decision. Central to the many considerations is a significant concern for students across the district that depend daily upon our classrooms for quality instruction and cafeterias for nutritious meals. Ultimately, this solution was based on a primary concern for safety and security of all students in an environment where adequate supervision could not be assured."
The North Carolina Association of Educators is organizing Wednesday's march in Raleigh. It takes place the same day the General Assembly convenes for the year. Teachers will be marching for better pay and working conditions, plus more education funding in general for schools. In a budget adjustment proposal unveiled this week, Democratic governor Roy Cooper sought to raise teacher pay by 8%, in part by halting tax cuts Republican leaders in the General Assembly approved for corporations and six-figure income earners. GOP leaders immediately rejected the proposal. As Republicans have veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, getting their support is essentially a must for any pay or funding changes to take place.