DETROIT (AP) — Some Detroit schools were closed again Wednesday due to the absence of teachers, but it was the smallest number since a so-called sick-out gathered momentum this week over issues like pay and the condition of buildings.
Meanwhile, a state lawmaker said he would introduce two bills Thursday that could start the process of overhauling the Detroit district, which is burdened by debt, falling enrollment and low morale among employees.
Republican Sen. Goeff Hansen said teacher absences, however, could sour the GOP-controlled Legislature's resolve to address the problem. Teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan.
"We need kids in the classroom," Hansen said.
The district reported at least five closings Wednesday, compared to about two dozen on Tuesday and more than 60 on Monday. At the peak, tens of thousands of students were forced to stay home. Detroit has about 100 public schools and 46,000 students.
Teachers are upset over class sizes, pay, the condition of buildings and a plan by Gov. Rick Snyder to deal with millions of debt by creating a new district. Already, the district is run by an emergency manager appointed by the Republican governor.
Mayor Mike Duggan toured some schools Tuesday and pledged to come up with a plan to improve buildings where some cold kids wear coats until lunch and rodents roam. Spokesman John Roach said there was nothing yet to announce Wednesday.
"These are things that we have been saying for years and years and years. ... We had to cause an interruption," teacher Nina Chacker told FOX 2 Detroit.
Teacher and activist Steve Conn said he called in sick Monday.
"I think we're headed to an all-out strike. It's the only way we can solve it," said Conn, former president of the teachers union.
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