PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — On the eve of another day of salary negotiations between Bay District Schools and the Association of Bay County Educators, teachers made their voices heard right outside the Nelson Building.
Monday night’s rallying cry was “We can’t walk out, but we can show out.”
“We’re still here, we’re still working,” ABCE bargaining team co-chair Alexis Underwood said. “We’re committed to continuing to go back and forth with the district until we find an equitable, shared solution. We don’t want to take them to the cleaners or break the budget, but we do want a fair living increase for the teachers of Bay County.”
Many felt underappreciated by the school districts’ offer at negotiations earlier this month.
“The ask is that we be given a raise that does a better job of keeping pace with inflation,” Underwood said. “We know the district can’t hope to match the rate of inflation, but for the last several years, as we’ve supported them in rolling out the governor’s minimum salary, it’s always been with the understanding that once we hit that and the rules changed, that more money would be allocated to veteran teachers.”
But Bay District Schools Communications Director Sharon Michalik said they haven’t yet hit the $47,500 minimum pay rate.
Instead, the current starting salary is only at about $45,600.
“We are still not at the governor’s minimum salary,” Michalik said. “Until you get to the governor’s minimum salary, there’s a lot of directives about where the money can be spent and the bulk of the money has to be spent raising that beginning teacher salary, which unfortunately doesn’t leave any money or hardly any money for those veteran teachers that have been teaching for a long time.”
Second-grade teacher Dana Kwarteng hopes a solution can be found soon.
“Best case scenario is that we can get this done tomorrow, put this to bed, get our contract out to be ratified by our members, our bargaining unit, And, you know, if that’s not what happens, we will continue to go back and forth,” Kwarteng said. “We will continue to bargain because we’re here to help our teachers and do what is best for our teachers. We’re not going to stop.”
The school district and the teacher’s union will come to the table again Tuesday, November 15 at 4:30 p.m. at the Nelson Building.
Click here if you want to find a more detailed look into the union negotiations thus far.