Hillsborough County teachers demand promised pay raises

TAMPA, Fla. - Hillsborough County teachers are fighting to be heard. Many, angry the district hasn’t given them a raise, promised to qualified teachers.

Hundreds of teachers showed up to Tuesday afternoon’s school board meeting to demand the pay bump.

Teachers crowded the windows, to show school board members they were there and that “teachers matter” as they would protest.

Many yelled “a deal is a deal” and asked cars to honk in alliance. 

One-third of Hillsborough County teachers expected their raises this year, but have not seen a cent.

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The issue was not scheduled on the school board’s agenda, but teachers made it a priority.

“I feel like we are not valued,” a Riverview High School teacher, Valerie Chuchman said.

Chuchman says she has been working for the district for 19 years, but even her pay stubs are incorrect, saying she has only been with the district for 18 years.

This would delay her pay bump by an entire year.

“We are not asking for anything extra. We are just asking for what was promised and the district is not honoring it,” she said.

Hundreds of teachers were promised $4,000 per person, per contract in raises this year.

But the district says they cannot afford it.

“Rather than bargaining in good faith, the district has drug things out failed to answer questions, failed to really engage in any discussion and just said no,” The Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Union president, Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, said on Tuesday.

Last week thousands of students walked out of class in support of their teachers demand.

Students also showed up to Tuesday’s board meeting, along with hundreds of educators asking for the raise.

“We are coming up on the holidays and so of course monetary pressure is an issue, but it’s also frustrating because of the disrespect that the district has really showing to our people,” Baxter-Jenkins said.

This district says funding is an issue, claiming its already paid out $200 million in salaries and benefits in the last four years.

“The fact that all of us work every day for kids should not be a reason to abuse their good will,” Baxter-Jenkins said.

The district says giving the teachers raises would likely cost $17 million more.

School board members say their funding does not stretch that far because legislation funding has not kept up in the recent years.

“It just feels like they haven’t been listening,” Valerie Chuchman says.

If teachers do not see their promised pay raises, they say they will not be working any more long days.

That means no grading, after school activities or prepping for class time. 

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