HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - Hillsborough County teachers are firing back after the district has said they will not issue promised $4K raises to qualifying teachers.
The Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association met Thursday night, and decided collectively as a group that they will all be working to contract the week after Thanksgiving break, according to Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, executive director for the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association.
Teachers and support staff will not be assisting with any before or after school activities, Baxter-Jenkins said.
For Rob Kriete, a teacher at Riverview High School, working to contract will be tough.
"We spend so much time afterschool, donating our time, collaborating with each other," he said. "In my 24 years in this district, we've never come to this."
Teachers are also planning to do massive “grade-ins” where large numbers of teachers will be taking all the work they usually do at home, before or after school and on the weekend and doing it in food courts at large malls.
This allows the public to see that what we are asked cannot be done in eight hours a day, Kriete said.
District leaders promised to give Hillsborough County teachers a $4,000 pay bump after three years of successful evaluations.
However, now the district says they cannot afford to issue those raises, saying the cost is $17M. Hillsborough County Schools leaders say they have given employees more than $200M in pay and benefits increases over the past four years, despite a district financial picture that was not promising.
"We as a union are never going to say that the district has an easy situation with money," said Baxter-Jenkins. "We think the district needs to think a little differently, come back to the table and prioritize the people that actually prepare students for life."
District leaders say their fund balance has dropped dramatically as increased pay has been given out, while at the same time funding from the legislature has not kept up.
Educators and the public are also planning on attending the next Hillsborough County School Board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 3 p.m. They will be wearing matching blue shirts provided by the teacher’s union, saying “I Prepare Students For Life.”