TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The Tulsa school board has decided to cancel classes on the day of a planned teacher rally and add a day to the end of the current academic year.
The board voted unanimously on Tuesday to close schools Feb. 12 because so many teachers have asked to take the day off to travel to Oklahoma to encourage support for education funding reform.
School board members tabled a vote last week on canceling classes, asking district administrators and union officials to reach a compromise on how many teachers should attend the rally
Superintendent David Sawyer had wanted schools to remain open that day, and suggested sending about five teachers from every school and other community representatives to the rally.
But at least 45 percent of the district's teachers had requested personal leave for the day. Sawyer finally conceded at the meeting, recommending that the board vote to cancel classes for Feb. 12.
``I think we all made our comments the other evening,'' said board member Matt Livingood, referring to last week's board meeting. ``Now it's time to move on and try to get as many people as we can to participate in the rally.''
The president of the Tulsa teachers union said he would cooperate with the district on the idea of charging rally participants a fee for school bus transportation to the rally.
``We are actively working with the district now in filling those buses to get to Oklahoma City,'' said Steve Stockley, president of the Classroom Teachers Association.
A provision in the teachers' employment contract allowed them to request Feb. 12 and as many as four other days of personal leave each year without restriction or possibility of rejection as long as the request is made at least 24 hours in advance.
School Board member Cathy Newsome has said the lack of restrictions on personal leave is ``a flaw in our teacher contract'' and criticized teachers' use of the provision for the political rally.