ORLANDO, Fla. — Eighth-grade teacher Charity Travis said she came to Thursday's school board budget work session because teachers need more than just a $500 raise.
- 2018 annual financial report showed $48.7 million in extra revenue
- But schools official says that money is not guaranteed next year
- Chairwoman Jacobs says board is "helpless," blamed Legislature
With some of their insurance premiums and copays going up, "so many (Orange County) teachers are left actually in negative or with minuscule balances that doesn't even cover the cost of living in Orlando," Travis said.
There weren't as many red-shirted teachers protesting at Thursday's budget workshop as there were at Tuesday night's Orange County Public Schools' board meeting, but Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins and district CFO Dr. Dale Kelly reiterated that there is no more money in the operating budget that can be used for raises.
"We don't have hidden pots of money in the budget," Jenkins said. Any other funds either have to be used for other categories or would have to come out of their reserve funds.
According to the district's 2018 annual financial report, however, they had $48.7 million in extra revenue. That could equal another 4 percent raise for Orange County teachers across the board.
However, district Chief Communications Officer Scott Howat said that money is not guaranteed next year, so they cannot use it for raises. Instead, they moved that money into the reserve fund, a move criticized by some teacher advocates.
Howat also said that the majority of the district's teachers are rated as "highly effective," which means they'll get an extra $1,525 raise on top of the base $500 in October.
But Howat said the board is looking to increase that if they have leftover funds again.
"At the year-end closeout, we'll look at the funding levels and see if there's a possibility of increasing the bonus that we've already agreed to pay, maybe up to $750 or looking at an additional bonus," Howat said.
Every board member blamed the state Legislature.
"We have to communicate with Tallahassee our concerns with our teachers' salaries," board member Johanna Lopez said.
Board Chairwoman Teresa Jacobs said the school board is "helpless," and the only way real change is going to happen is if lawmakers give them more funds.
Travis agreed and wants everyone, not just teachers, to take the fight to Tallahassee.
"There's very little they can change now. It may be something they can change going forward. I just really still encourage everyone to get involved," Travis said.
Spectrum News 13 spoke to the lead negotiator for the teachers union, Wendy Doromal, who said that this is why they thought they could not get any more money for teachers.
Doromal said they bargain year-round, and if there is money left over found in September, teachers will demand higher bonuses.