What our school district might not want you to know

Teachers feel like they are being lied to, and their earned pay raises are being held hostage.


Cydney Socias

An anonymous Blake High School teacher has their identity concealed with the “Shhh” emoji.

Fiery rage, burning passion, angered intensity. These words aren’t regularly used to describe the placid teachers we know and love. However, this school year will be anything but regular for Hillsborough county educators. Why? Teachers are outrageously being denied their contractual raises, and without good reason. Not only are they being denied their fair salary, but they also are very limited in the ways that they can speak out. The district has made empty promises, and their relationship with schools is now fairly low- despite having just made a more pleasurable bell schedule. But what exactly happened?

Earlier this school year, Hillsborough county teachers were promised their contractual agreement to be given a pay raise after every couple of years. Recently, the district revoked this promise, due to the fact that the county allegedly no longer had money.  Some Hillsborough teachers are now fighting back by “working the contract”, which means that they will only work the 8 hours a day that they are payed for, and stop taking work home. Teachers are not allowed to strike because they work in a right to work state but students all across from Hillsborough county schools did a strike to raise awareness throughout the county that teachers needed a raise in their salary. Teachers are not getting paid for all the extra time that they work for after school and for the weekends. Teachers also have their own family that don’t have the attention and time they should be given due to the circumstances of them having to put all the extra time in their lives to grade students work and helping their students by creating their next topics and power points to work and learn from.

Public Records
A chart displaying the amount of money teachers should receive each year, and how this amount increases. every couple of years.

A teacher with over 15 years of experience who has spent two years teaching at Blake, has been hopping from county to county in hopes of avoiding similar situations. Choosing to remain anonymous, she would even move to Sarasota just to get her fair salary. Angered yet frightened, she wants to organize some sort of opposition to the district, “but I’m afraid.” Although the anonymous source loves her job, she hates being taken advantage of. “We always do these things because we love children but they take advantage of that.” Although the cost of living has increased tremendously, the average teacher salary has remained stagnant for over ten years. She was told by officials that the teachers were lucky for not getting pay cuts. This only added fuel to the fire. The source only considered working the contract in her darkest moments, she ultimately decided against it. She cares way too much about her students to stop putting in the extra effort for them, despite not being paid to do so.  

Teacher’s don’t only need the money for themselves. Unknown to many students, some teachers have sick children who were relying on the salary increase at the end of this year. Like the anonymous source, teachers have even resorted to getting second jobs just to be able to live in this economy. So, how can teachers stand up to the blatant disrespect of the county?

The truth is: they can’t. Not with out being subjected to the repercussions of speaking their mind. Florida teachers don’t even have the right to speak their minds. According to their contractual agreement, teachers can not go on any sort of strike. Even “working the contract” (when a teacher only works their contractually agreed hours, so will not take student’s work home) pushes the extent of their power. Although teachers do feel limited in their ability to stand up for their own pay, there is a legal way of doing so: the teacher’s union, known as CTA.

So, what is the union? In short, each school has a union representative. A member of the school’s staff who speaks to the school district board members on behalf of the school. Blake High School’s representative is Mr. Lofstead.

How can the school district afford to raise the salaries of their own workers, but not of the teachers? Mr. Lofstead raises a great point. The story that the district has settled with is quite confusing. On one side, they claim to have no money, yet they can still afford to raise certain people with specific jobs. Only 1/3 of the teachers were expecting to get their contractual raise. In fact, the district violates the teachers’ contracts by not negotiating with said teachers.

 Attempts to reach Lisa Yost, Area 1 Superintendent, and Jeff Eakins, Hillsborough County School District Superintendent for comment were unsuccessful. 

Perhaps teachers will have to live with this injustice. The district may always have excuses, and never fully accept responsibility. Educators must choose whether or not to stay in Hillsborough County, or relocate just to get what they deserve. Despite the protests from both students and teachers alike, it sadly doesn’t seem like compromise will ever be reached.