Pinellas teachers give school board an earful listen05/28/08 Arielle Stevenson
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The Pinellas County school board meeting last night was crowded with students being honored for their achievements, their proud parents holding cameras and the teachers who helped them along the way. But the largest group was the 50 or so teachers, dressed in dark colors to symbolize their frustrations with proposed pay cuts and closing schools.
Kim Black, president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, says that even Texas, another state with no income tax, didnâ€™t increase their property taxes to makeup for salary cuts.
Pinellas County School board members have to cut $40 million for next school year, but Black says there are other ways than reducing or freezing salaries when nationally they are already low.
Riviera Middle School is one of the schools closing this year. Linda Raines is a guidance counselor there and says that teachers were told in August they would be placed in other county teaching positions. Now the school year is coming to a close and 95 percent of their faculty has yet to be placed, says Raines.
One teacher from Riviera spoke at last night's meeting and says that after 24 years of teaching, job uncertainty is unacceptable.
School Board member Clark responded by saying that the school board has known about this closing for over a year, and that she was under the impression they had already been placed.
Pamela Peters has been a teacher in Pinellas County since 1991 when she started at a salary of $37,000. Now 17 years later, she has yet to break $40,000 and she has serious doubts she will with the current budget situation. She says she and her fellow educators are struggling to make ends meet.
Board chairperson Nancy Bostock informed audience presenters that their concerns were not on the board agenda and there was no vote so there would be little discussion made by the board at the meeting in regard to budget cuts until their workshop later that week.
However board members did take time to discuss between themselves.
At the end of audience presentations, Clark said she would go through her emails to find solution suggestions made by the public that could be discussed at the upcoming extended workshop.
Additional time has been scheduled for this Thursdayâ€™s upcoming workshop and an additional workshop may be scheduled as well. For more information or to contact board members, please visit www.pcsb.org.