BDS veteran teachers rally for pay raises

Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 10:44 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Dozens of Bay District Schools teachers spent their Wednesday evening trying to make a point. The group showed up outside the Panama City Mall wearing red and rallying.

The teachers union has been at the bargaining table with Bay District Schools for months and it seems one thing they just can’t agree on is how much teachers should make.

Governor Ron DeSantis set a goal to increase the average minimum salary of teachers to at least $47,500, which union leaders say isn’t much less than someone who has been teaching for decades.

The union is asking to see a 7% raise for veteran teachers, while the district is only offering 4.4%.

“A lot of experienced teachers have had enough and are walking away from the profession and our students are the ones who are suffering because you’re losing that expertise in the classroom and classrooms are being left empty. Or they’re being taught, students are being taught by noncredential teachers, just warm bodies being out into the classroom because that’s all we have right now,” Denise Hinson, President of the Association of Bay County Educators, said. “We are taking care of our children, our community’s children. We are Bay County and we want to do what’s best for our students, we are Bay. And I think the community is behind us because we want to do what’s best for our children and we want to keep doing what’s best.”

But oftentimes, teachers are taking care of more than just the kids in the classroom. Many have children of their own back home.

BJ Meadows has been a functional education teacher for over 20 years and said it’s upsetting to invest so much time without much compensation.

“I have a master’s degree and am halfway through my Ph.D. and I still don’t make enough money to support my family on what I bring home and my kids obviously know that. They know how much I’m not home and they know how much I’m working. They know that even with a master’s degree, sometimes I’m cleaning toilets on the weekend and for that much schooling it’s just not right,” Meadows said.

Negotiations continue Tuesday, November 15th at 4:30 p.m. Union leaders are asking members to come and show support.

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