PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Bay District School board room was filled Tuesday with plenty of teachers and retired teachers ready to speak up. Both the public and the board members sounded off on teachers’ pay.
One thing everyone could agree on is the negotiations seem to be stuck.
“What is your long-term plan to keep qualified and expert educators in our classroom,” one teacher said.
“According to the Florida Department of the education evaluation system, I am highly effective,” said another. “For the past five years the pass rate for my students for the civics end-of-course exam has averaged in the 90 percent range and this past year for the second time in five years that pass rate has been 100 percent, in short, you are lucky to have me.”
Several teachers questioned why the district says they value the teachers but won’t raise their salary. Superintendent Bill Husfelt’s sent an email explaining the district’s savings funds cannot sustain a significant raise.
“I recall in your email Mr. Husfelt that the District can not run in the red. How can I be expected to,” one teacher said.
Husfelt reminded the crowd that he tried to pass a tax increase that would have been used to raise all teacher’s salaries to $50,000 dollars and voters rejected it.
“I didn’t hear anybody come and say, ‘Hey, that’s a great idea,'” Husfelt said. “The teachers deserve it. Now, all of a sudden, we don’t care about teachers. And it hurts because we do care about teachers.”
Husfelt added that by law if Bay District raises teachers’ salaries even by $1000 they are required to raise all others by $750. But the District could face a significant loss of experienced teachers if they can’t come to a better agreement in negotiations.
“But can I encourage you that that is a word of encouragement,” another teacher said. “What we sow into. We will reap.”