ANDERSON — Anderson Community Schools were shut down Wednesday as 15 to 20% of the district's 500 teachers called out.
The school district was aware of call-outs on Tuesday but said they thought they had enough staff to safely accommodate students.
A spokesperson with Anderson Community Schools says they had an influx of teachers call off Wednesday morning and didn't feel confident it would have enough substitute teachers across the district to cover so it had to shut them all down.
Around 6,300 students who attend Anderson Community Schools were forced to stay home Wednesday as teachers called out asking for better pay. The school district didn't notify parents schools were closed until early Wednesday morning.
"I'm one of those parents," Stephany Stennis said. "This morning, my children were out waiting on the bus. I was wondering what was going on and I pulled up Facebook and everyone was like, school is out. It is very challenging to figure out what we are doing last minute like this, but this is an attack on our teachers."
Teachers argue they aren't being paid enough to compensate for their insurance premiums.
Under the school district's current proposal, teachers would receive a $2,000 increase in base salary and $10,000 in stipends over the next two years. This ensures all staff will see an increase in their take-home pay.
A deal hasn't been reached yet and parents worry if the district doesn't pay up, their children will lose great educators.
"That is a real issue here, they are going to go elsewhere and we are going to be in this horrible situation," Stennis said. "We are already struggling right now finding para educators on top of qualified teachers, it's just going to be a mess from here on out if they don't do what our teachers are asking them to do and they aren't asking for much."
Anderson students took classes virtually last Friday for the same reason.
Nikki Wisler, another parent, added how schools were also short-staffed on Tuesday.
"At my daughter's school here in Anderson, 32 teachers and one dean called out in that single day on Tuesday," Wisler explained.
In a statement, Superintendent Dr. Joe Crunk said he's disappointed in the teachers' decision to call out.
Despite the struggle to find last-minute care, several parents say they stand in solidarity with the teachers, including Stennis.
"We have all changed our profile pictures and banners to show we are standing with our teachers. It's not them doing this to us. It's the administration and Joe Crunk. Our teachers are our heroes and given the pay that they deserve," she said.
"The parents, we are fed up with the administration and we stand behind our teachers," Wisler said.
Parents plan on showing up to the next school district meeting on Nov. 9 wearing red to support the teachers. Anderson Community Schools tells WRTV it's a mixture of teachers, including special education teachers who are calling out.
If they have to close school again, parents, guardians, and the public will be notified.