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Education

Hillsborough County Public School Teachers Pack School Board Meeting Over Pay

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Jodi Bardelli
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Hillsborough County teachers are not legally permitted to strike, but they did voice their displeasure over a pay raise dispute at Tuesday's School Board meeting in Tampa.

Hundreds of Hillsborough County school teachers protested at Tuesday's School Board meeting in Tampa.

Friction between teachers and administrators began surfacing last month when teachers were told they would not be getting a pay raise. Under a negotiated pay plan, teachers have received a four thousand dollar increase every three years if they attain high evaluation scores. 

But now, the school district says it cannot afford the $17 million dollars it would take to pay out those performance raises to teachers and support staff.

At the meeting, Hillsborough County School Superintendent Jeff Eakins said, " When the district entered its current salary agreement with the union four years ago, it was with the knowledge it would change with economic reality. Without proper planning, without support from the Legislature and without additional money through grants, the salary plan everyone hoped would be financially viable is not."

Teachers argue the district is not acting on good faith. They maintain that when the plan was negotiated, teachers made concessions such as giving up pay for advanced degrees and yearly steps in favor of the proposed raise for effective teaching. 

The Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association has been in negotiations with the school district since May regarding the raises. Union president, Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins said the district has shown "disrespect to our people." 

The School Board held the first of two hearings Tuesday on the 2017-18 school budget of close to $3 billion dollars.

Last week, students at Hillsborough high schools staged a walk-out in support of teachers. 

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