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Teachers pack Polk Co. School Board meeting to demand for better pay, improved working conditions

Posted at 4:57 PM, Jan 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-28 23:19:53-05

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — More than a hundred teachers are expected to pack the Polk County School Board meeting Tuesday night, for the "Bring it to Bartow" rally, which is being organized by the Polk County Education Association.

This comes on the heels of the Jan. 13 march on Tallahassee, which included thousands of teachers from across the state.


Polk County teachers are demanding better pay and improved working conditions for all district employees and students.

According to teachers, one way to achieve this, is a referendum asking taxpayers approve a millage rate hike. The President of the PEA said this will bring in $40 to $50 million for the district. She said that money can go directly towards teacher raises.

"I honestly believe everybody’s heart is in the right place, but, sometimes people are so far removed from the classrooms they need to hear the teachers," Amy Lashkajani a math teacher at Southwest Middle School said. She had this message for the board and superintendent regarding better pay and working conditions.

"You should find a new job if you are not going to advocate for us," Lashkajani said.

Hundreds packed Bartow High School's auditorium for Tuesday's school board meeting. Educators and parents dressed in red.

"I do think our kids should be getting a quality education, and right now they're not getting that," said parent Dana Scott.

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"Too much is being up on the teachers now," said parent Paige Gunder. "They are doing it all and still forced to use their money to buy school supplies because there's not enough money in the budget."

Polk County Schools Superintendent told ABC Action News before the meeting they hear what teachers are saying.

"We are going to listen to them carefully, and that we can take that information and then at a later date we can work with our teachers, our union, our district staff to make sure we can do some of the things to make their jobs a lot more palatable and easier for them," Jacqueline Byrd said. "We are going to listen to them tonight. We are going to listen to them in the future, and how we can help them more."

Story developing, refresh for updates. Stay with ABC Action News for the latest.