On Oct. 30, 20-30 Steinbrenner teachers participated in a walk-in. The purpose of the walk-in was to stand up against the school board’s decision to eliminate teacher’s raises for the current year.
A few years ago, the school board pushed teachers to sign a new contract. The contract stated that with a new payment system teachers would receive a raise once they have reached a certain “step” or experience level, as opposed to all teachers getting a small raise every year as had been the case. After a couple of months of negotiating, the new system was set in place for the 2014-2015 school year.
“The district begged teachers to come over to a new pay scale, a new method of paying us,” said Jason Levy, one of the union representatives for Steinbrenner.
After teachers expressed concern about the new system, the school board assured teachers that they had enough funds to start the new raise system, but when the 2017-2018 school year began, the district claimed they no longer had enough money for the raises.
This school year would have been the first year for some teachers, especially the teachers who were hired during the 2014-2015 school year, to get a raise. But due to lack of funding, the county retracted their agreement, leaving many teachers without their promised raises.
“This year the district is saying they can’t afford to [give teachers their raises],” said Levy. “Meanwhile, two-thirds of the teachers got that bump and a third of the teachers were due to get the bump this year, and now the district is backing out of that deal.”
In order to show their frustration and send a message to the school board, a group of Steinbrenner teachers stood outside of the school, refusing to enter the school until their required time, which is 7:15 a.m.. The walk-in was supposed to demonstrate how much effort teachers regularly put into their jobs and how different the school would be if they only worked during the hours they are contractually obligated to work. Normally, many of the teachers get to school well before their required sign in time to aid students, make lesson plans, and prepare for the day- all for no additional pay.
The teachers that participated wanted to show that the school board’s decision to deny raises and cancel negotiations with the union is unfair and degrading towards the value of teaching.
“It’s demoralizing. As a teacher, we work really hard and we are underpaid professionals,” said John Vona.
Marielyssa Hernandez // Opinion Editor
Photo credit: Jordyn Dees