HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Students at multiple Hillsborough County high schools walked out of their classrooms Wednesday morning in support of their teachers, who say they haven’t received promised pay raises.
Students at Jefferson, Blake, Robinson, Plant, Alonso, Freedom, Sickles and Steinbrenner high schools wore all black for the protest. They walked out of their classrooms around 8:45 a.m. and gathered outside to show their disapproval about their teachers not getting pay raises.
Teachers, who wish to stay anonymous, have told News Channel 8 they were promised raises based on quality after they were urged to opt into a new pay system. The time has come to receive their raises, but they tell us the district hasn’t paid them. Some teachers wrote letters to Superintendent Jeff Eakins saying they were promised as much as $4,000.
The district responded by saying the funds are needed elsewhere right now.
Part of the district’s statement says:
“As a district, we have to balance priorities and budgets every year to focus on all aspects of what it takes to help students succeed. Our people are the most important part of that.
We have given our staff raises for the great work they do with students. Our district has given our employees more than $200 million in pay and benefits increases over the past four years, despite a district financial picture that was not promising. The average pay for a Hillsborough County teacher is now the second-highest in the Tampa Bay Area and the eighth-highest in the State of Florida.
Because of that, our district’s fund balance – which is like our savings account – has dropped dramatically as increased pay has been given out, while at the same time funding from the legislature has not kept up with the amount needed to pay for our additional costs.
We have taken dramatic steps for the past two years to make raises possible – for example, last year, money that could have been used to pay for teaching tools and necessary projects was instead reallocated to allow a one-time boost to fund another round of teacher raises.”
The school district also claims that funds are needed for more pressing issues such as technology and air conditioner repair work.
New Channel 8 will be at the walkout at Alonso High School. We will have an update at 11 a.m.
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