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Arkansas teachers rally for pay raises from lawmakers

Arkansas teachers gathered at the capitol on Sunday to ask the state for pay raises to be put on the upcoming special session agenda.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As teachers have been preparing to head back to class, Arkansas legislators have been preparing for the upcoming special session.

During this upcoming session, educators hope for a pay raise, and many of them spent Sunday afternoon at the Capitol making sure that plea was heard.

Crowds of Arkansas teachers, including Gwen Faulkenberry, came together on the Capitol Steps to ask the state for pay raises, "We have a crisis situation on our hands...[we'd] like to put that on the special session agenda," Faulkenberry said.

The third extraordinary session of the 93rd general assembly is set to begin this week, on Tuesday.

Governor Asa Hutchinson had previously signaled teacher raises as a possibility for the $1.6 billion surplus, but it's no longer as certain.

"So we got a lot of momentum for the teacher pay side, but I think they will consider that next year. And so this session should go smoothly with a consensus on the items that we have," Hutchinson added.

Activists like Gennie Diaz, executive director of 'For AR People' continue to work to make sure this topic is at the top of legislators' minds.

"We have heard from nearly 16,000 Arkansans, who signed a petition saying that educators need a pay raise now...even if these lawmakers turned a deaf ear to us, and do not add this to the special session, it's just the beginning," Diaz said.

As the decision of how to use the state's $1.6 billion surplus is just days away many teachers will be watching the session closely.

"Hopefully, the legislature will see that this matters so much to our people, and they still have the time they can put it on the agenda," Diaz said.

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