After first saying they planned to hold school May 16, Chatham County Schools leaders have now scheduled a special meeting to consider closing schools so teachers can go to Raleigh to advocate for public education.
The school board will meet at 6 p.m. Friday in the boardroom of the Chatham County Schools Central Services building, 369 West St., Pittsboro.
Monday, when Chatham officials said the district anticipated having a regular school day May 16, only 36 employees in instructional positions were expected to be away from work that day.
But John McCann, a district spokesman, said that number has increased to about 20 percent of teachers over the past two days, although not all of the requests for leave can be tied to the public education advocacy event in Raleigh.
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Last week, Durham Public Schools became the first school district in the state to close schools May 16 when more than 1,000 teachers requested the day off.
Since then, at least 15 school districts across North Carolina, including Wake, Johnston and Orange county schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools have announced they will also close.
And two Durham charter schools — Central Park School for Children and Research Triangle High School (RTHS) — will be closed to students May 16 so their teachers can go to Raleigh.
Eric Grunden, chief school officer at RTHS, said the decision to make May 16 a teacher workday came after roughly 25 percent of the school's teachers requested off on May 16.
"We had a lot of teachers ask for that day off, and it exceeded our capacity for subs," Grunden said.
He noted that students at the school do a lot of their course work online, so he doesn't expect them to miss much instructional time. "They'll still be able to make progress on their course work," Grunden said.
State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson has criticized next week's teacher protest in Raleigh and said he hopes more school districts won't close that day.