Madison Schools, Other Districts Cancel Classes Thursday

Teachers Union Asks People To Join Protests

Published On: Feb 16 2011 09:11:46 AM CST   Updated On: Feb 17 2011 05:36:31 AM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

Madison public schools are closed again on Thursday because too many teachers are taking the day off to protest Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to limit union bargaining.

Several other school districts in the south-central part of Wisconsin have also canceled classes Thursday.

It's the second consecutive day the Madison Metropolitan School District has canceled classes "due to substantial concerns about staff absences."

The district said it has received reports Wednesday evening that there will again be significant staff absences in the district on Thursday in protest of the governor's proposed changes in labor law.

The district said the decision was made to cancel classes because administrators were concerned about a safe and secure school environment.

"We regret having to make this decision for a second consecutive day, but with the significant percentage of staff members expected to be absent on Thursday, we can not assure the safety of all students. We realize this is difficult for families because it impacts family routines and schedules and we appreciate your flexibility during these difficult times," said Ken Syke, the district's spokesman, in a statement released on Wednesday night.

Syke said that all Madison Metropolitan School District staff is expected to work Thursday.

Superintendent Dan Nerad said teachers who are taking a sick day will be asked to show proof of a medical reason.

Many teachers in the Madison district spent Wednesday at rallies at the Capitol in opposition to Walker's collective bargaining proposal.

Other area school districts that have also canceled classes Thursday include the Oregon School District, the DeForest Area School District, Edgerton Schools, Monona Grove Schools, Middleton-Cross Plains Schools, Verona Schools and Waunakee Schools. For more school closing information, visit Channel 3000's school closings page.

Other schools closed around the state include La Crosse, Racine, Beaver Dam, Mosinee, Watertown and Stoughton.

The closings come after the leader of Wisconsin's largest teachers union said she wants all state residents to join protests in Madison against the bill that would strip most public workers of almost all their collective bargaining rights.

Wisconsin Education Association Council President Mary Bell didn't explicitly call on teachers to skip classes during a news conference outside the state Capitol on Wednesday evening, but she did say that all Wisconsinites should look into their hearts and come to Madison on Thursday and Friday.

The governor introduced a bill last week that would restrict public workers' collective bargaining rights to salaries only. The measure has prompted a massive protest at the state Capitol that has gone for the last two days.

Stay tuned to WISC-TV and Channel 3000 for continuing coverage.