Philadelphia teachers out of classrooms, rallying on Monday

Philadelphia school teachers were out of the classroom on Monday morning and outside protesting to draw attention to their lack of a contract.

The event was planned by a group called May Day of Advocacy for Philly Schools. Besides being May Day, Monday ironically happens to be School Principals' Day.

The teachers are taking personal days -- not a sickout -- to rally for a new contract. They say their absences should acknowledge their presence.

The plan is to picket at their schools at about 7:30am, then rally and protest at district headquarters at about 10am, and finally do something similar at City Hall.

FOX 29's Lauren Johnson was at the Franklin Learning Center in Fairmount.

It has now been four years without a contract and five years without a pay raise for teachers, and many say they're fed up and frustrated.

The issue has sparked rallies in the past - plus a billboard on I-95 -- and some teachers say the pay freeze is forcing good teachers to leave the district, taking jobs in the suburbs instead.

"I don't want to leave the district," said history teacher Ismail Jimenez. "I know I'm at least one or two years away, if there is not a change, I might have to."

School district officials said they are at the negotiating table, working on a contract for their teachers, but are aware of the planned protest, and the potential for a high number of teacher absences on Monday. Schools are open and the district says it's working with principals and the company that provides substitute teachers to ensure there will be no disruptions on the classrooms.

A Philadelphia School District spokesperson said in a statement, "We have been working with our principals and substitute provider to ensure that there will be no disruption."