Calls to increase teacher pay are taking center stage in Osceola County as school board members met for an executive session this week after dozens of teachers spoke with board members last month to ask for an 8.7% cost-of-living raise.
What You Need To Know
- Last month, teachers in Osceola County asked board members for a 8.7% cost-of-living pay increase
- This week, School Board members met in executive session to discuss the isssue
- Osceola County Education Association leaders say a planned Thursday meeting with district officials never took place
Leaders with the Osceola County Education Association said they were hoping to make some progress and get back to the bargaining table with school district officials on Thursday. However, the meeting never took place, and they told Spectrum News 13 they still haven’t heard from district leaders.
“We just want transparency — at the end of the day, we would like to know what is going on with our taxpayer dollars,” explained Emily Gorentz a 4th-grade teacher at East Lake Elementary School and the instructional vice president for the Osceola County Education Association. “We would like to know if the district plans on helping its educators.”
She said the education association is asking for school district leaders to meet them at the bargaining table to discuss the cost-of-living adjustment they have been asking about.
“We are trying to help people through the holidays, everyone has increased expenses right now,” Gorentz said. “We want to make sure we can get this put in place, we have been asking for it for months — it is not a surprise to anybody. We have tons of support we are just waiting for the board to actually act.”
She said this adjustment would help educators and support staff working additional jobs.
“We just want educators to feel supported and respected. We want people to be able to have one job and for that to be enough and you can give your all to that one job,” said Gorentz. “Ultimately, we are all here for the kids at the end of the day. If we can give everything to that one job then the kids get the very best of us all the time.”
She believes this would help keep them afloat.
“This is not going to increase anyone’s purchasing power,” Gorentz said.
After last month’s Oscola County School Board meeting, member Jon Arguello said the district does have the money to increase teacher pay and should.
“That 10% raise or let’s say every teacher got started at $70,000, that doesn’t come to $2 billion, which is our budget,” he said on Nov. 2.
Gorentz believes it is financially irresponsible if school district leaders do not fix the problem.
“They are saying a lot of well we have to be fiscally responsible but at some point, it is fiscally irresponsible to save so much and not address your current problems,” she said. “The roof is leaking and it is storming outside and we are just not going to fix it. That is not responsible.”
After learning the education association was hoping to get to the bargaining table on Thursday, Spectrum News 13 reached out to several board members, but have not heard back.
The next school board will be meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 13 and Gorentz added there will be teachers at that meeting to make their voices heard yet again.
She said a Change.org petition for this issue has been signed by multiple school board members and has received growing support.