ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orange County School board voted to approve their tentative budget for this 2019-2020 school year.
- OCPS adopted more than $2 billion budget Tuesday
- District urged teachers to give their ideas to their union reps
- READ IT: Orange County Public Schools' budget presentation
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The budget approval comes less than 24 hours after teachers rejected a pay deal from the district that teachers said was unfair.
While the board adopted the more than $2 billion budget Tuesday, they stressed it's a tentative budget and can still be molded.
Teachers want it molded to give them a better wage.
“What we learned last night is that teachers are tired of feeling abused, taken advantage of, and not heard,” said David Grimm, an Orange County teacher and activist.
Teachers wore red again to the board meeting to show the need for fair pay.
After the district offered a raise, many said wouldn’t be a raise at all with the insurance hikes.
“Now you’re going to have a chance to run with the football, we’re giving it back to you to do some good with it,” said teacher and activist Mark Nolan.
But the district has not showed any signs of offering anything different.
Staff spent much of Tuesday’s meeting talking about the reasons why they say they don’t have more money to give to teachers.
They showed how funding from the Florida lottery has been reduced over the years in favor of scholarships and other programs.
The state legislature has reduced the amount of what’s called "required local effort," or how much of local property taxes the district can use.
“We know we need more money for public education, and we know we need more money to pay our teachers better, and this is one of the sources we don’t have control over right now,” said board chair Teresa Jacobs.
Superintendent Barbara Jenkins explained how the extra 1-mill tax last year was used for preventing layoffs and not for salaries.
She hinted that in the future the 1-mill tax could be used for that purpose.
“But that does not mean that the next time the 1 mill is up. You could not direct it to something more specific around teacher raises,” Jenkins said.
Teachers, board members, and staff all agree that going forward, the fight needs to go to Tallahassee to bring more state funding for teachers.
But by voting “no,” teachers have told the board and district that more needs to be done to find funding now.
“I’m requesting that the board initiate an independent study of the budget,” Nolan said.
Some of the board members said that they respect the teacher’s decision to reject the pay deal and are committing to look harder at the budget.
The district urged teachers to give their ideas to their union reps for the new round of bargaining.
But some teachers have accused union leadership of not fighting hard enough for them.