ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orange County Public School Board approved a more than $2 billion budget for this school year, even though they still do not know how much they’ll be paying teachers.
- Orange Co. Public Schools approve more than $2 billion budget
- Teacher salary negotiations won't begin until September 19
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Teachers got up during Tuesday's meeting to tell the board just how hard it is to afford basic amenities on their current salaries.
“Our paychecks are woefully inadequate to cover the cost of living in Florida,” said one teacher.
Salaries still need to be negotiated after teachers rejected the original pay deal offered by the district last month.
District leaders reminded everyone that this year’s budget has funds for extra bonuses for teachers. But Orange County high school teacher Ashely Modesto reminded the board and district that bonuses are only a Band-Aid fix.
“Bonuses do not keep the lights on in my house. My salary does the bonuses. They may sound great, but they won’t keep the power on,” Modesto said.
School board members spoke in support of the teachers, but yet again blamed their money problems on lawmakers who’ve continued to divert more public education funds to charter and private schools.
“Not enough people in Tallahassee and around this nation and this state who understands the dire predicament we will be in a few short years if we don’t have teachers in our classrooms,” board chair Teresa Jacobs said.
Despite saying they support giving teachers more money, board members unanimously approved the budget, which for now only provides the original amount offered.
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But teacher union president Wendy Doromal says they’re going to fight hard to change that.
“They do not want bonuses, what they want is a decent teacher base salary and affordable health care plan,” Doromal said.
The budget can be amended if negotiators come up with a different pay deal.
The district and the union are expected to begin the new round of negotiations on September 19.