Franklin School District Considers Pay Cuts

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While some teachers in Florida are focusing on a potential pay raise, teachers in Franklin County are coming to grips on the possibility of a pay cut.

Representatives say Franklin County school administrators are dealing with the consequences of a miscalculation and are now considering options to cover their half million dollar budget shortfall. One of the 5 options presented by superintendent Nina Marks takes a hefty 19.5% out of all school employees for the rest of the school year, but teachers say this isn't fair.

"They're suggesting 19.5% which would be almost $10,000 of my income where I stand with a masters degree and the number of years that I've taught in the county," said Franklin County Teachers Union President Catherine Wood. "It's just an astronomical amount of money to ask for anybody to take back."

"Florida is not a high paying state for teachers to start off with," said Laura Baney, Vice President of FCTU. "To take off 19.5%, we're talking that for as many years as I've been, with my bachelors I will be making just over $1,000 take home with that."

However, some teachers are taking the cuts more personally saying that the problem is being balanced on their backs.

"I recognize that we are in dire financial straits, dire, and something has to be done," said Elinor Mount-Simmons, a teacher at the Franklin County Academy, "but it should not all be done on the backs of the teachers and the para professionals. We did not cause this chaotic situation so we shouldn't be the ones solely responsible for rectifying it."

Many fear the pay cuts will hurt Franklin County businesses, already suffering because of the oyster crisis.

"That is going to directly effect our business, our restaurants, it's going to continue to effect our property taxes because people are not going to be able to make those payments, do the shopping and things that they normally do in this community," said Baney.

Both sides began negotiating Wednesday afternoon at 3, they finished at 7, but couldn't come to a successful agreement. Teachers say district officials should consider other options, such as securing a loan, rather than penalizing everyone for a mistake made on the upper levels.

A school board meeting is set for Thursday evening at 6 pm.

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