ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — State Representative Joy Goff-Marcil held a listening session Monday to hear from Orange County teachers about their grievances with their pay, insurance costs and other issues.
- Teachers say pay not enough to keep up with insurance costs
- A vote for a pay deal will end at the end of the month
Orange County high school teacher Mark Nolan says he was looking forward to this listening session.
"I'm excited to see that a legislator actually cares enough to take time out in the evening during the summer to field some of these comments as well as suggestions," Nolan said.
Goff-Marcil, a Democrat, says public education is a big part of why she ran to be in the state legislature.
"I also feel we should be listening to the educators that's who should be telling us what to do to improve the system," Goff-Marcil said.
Nolan and other Orange County teachers are saying loud and clear they are not being paid enough by Orange County Public Schools to keep up with rising insurance costs.
"The teacher concern is elevated to a level I've never in my 33 years of being an educator," Nolan said.
The Orange County School Board has repeatedly said state lawmakers are not giving enough funds to compensate teachers fairly, saying that money is being siphoned off to private or charter schools.
And Goff-Marcil says that is exactly what she is seeing in the capital.
"It really is happening where public schools are not being funded and there is a movement toward private school vouchers, and charter schools that are for profit," Goff-Marcil said.
She is now echoing board members saying that teachers need to show up in force to Tallahassee.
"I know it's quite a trek to go up there, but it is very helpful to go and meet one on one with legislators," Goff-Marcil said.
However, that fight will have to happen later. And Nolan says they have got a pay deal in front of them right now.
"If we vote 'yes' we've lost our opportunity, if we vote 'no' we continue these discussions and talks and bring attention to things," Nolan said.
Ballots to vote on the pay deal negotiated by the union and district were mailed out last week and Orange County's more than 10,000 teachers will have until the end of the month to vote on it.