Hillsborough teachers protest at school district headquarters

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Dozens of school teachers lined the streets in front of the Hillsborough County School District Headquarters because they feel they were lied to. Many have gone four years without a pay increase and this year they were told there is no money in the budget to pay them the money they were expecting. 

District officials had hoped to give employees raises but due to budgeting and unforeseen costs, they weren’t able to do so.

Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, the executive director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teacher’s Association, says teachers are upset at the district’s latest offer, which amounts to about $92 for every employee.

“Obviously I’m happy to see movement, but that’s not the movement we were hoping for,” said Baxter-Jenkins outside of the district headquarters. “I think its really easy to say, ‘we have no money.’ That’s a really good excuse. However, budgets are about choices and in this district we’ve consistently put employees last.”

Rob Krite, a teacher from Riverview High School, was one of the many standing up to the board.

“We’re working beyond the contract every single day. We just want what’s been promised to us already,” said Krite, “We’re not asking for anything more than has already been agreed to.”

Chirs Rosnak has similar feelings.

“They made a promise to us that we were promised a salary and we want them to deliver,” said Rosnak. “We want them to support us like we support the students in our county every single day. ”

District officials are limited in what they can say because negotiations are ongoing, but they are quick to point out Hillsborough County is one of the best paying counties for teachers in the Tampa Bay area and employees are valued.

But Heather O’Reilly, a teacher at Lewis Elementary, wonders if that is really true.

“It’s hard to turn on the news at night and see them ribbon cutting things that will take money from the district while they won’t give funds to us,” she said. It’s difficult to see high paid administrative positions, new office furniture, new buildings. They’re not acting like a district in crisis. ”

The school board met Tuesday at 3 p.m. and held another hearing at 6  p.m. where employees could address board members. A number of them stayed and addressed board members personally.

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