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Seminole Co. teachers protest over lack of pay raise

Teachers say lack of raise makes them feel 'worthless'

SANFORD, Fla. – Teachers in Seminole County protested outside the school board Wednesday over being denied salary increases at a time when the board members were given an increase from the state.

The fact that a new superintendent was named at the meeting was overshadowed by the hundreds of teachers demanding a pay raise.

"Teachers can't survive on their salaries. I still work a part-time job and I've been a teacher for 19 years and I barely get by," teacher Darren Hutchison said.

Hutchison, along with his fellow teachers crowded inside the school board meeting after protesting outside because they said they haven't had a pay raise in four years, and this year doesn't look like it will be any different.

"All I can do is look at you with shame and disgust," Hutchison said to the Seminole County School Board.

The teachers' anger boiled over when they learned the board members got a more than 4.5 percent increase in their salaries.

"Shouldn't you have set the example by refusing your own pay raise before denying others theirs?" a teacher asked the board.

The school board didn't actually give themselves a raise; their salaries were restored by the state to what they were in 2008. They also have not had raises since then, and some even returned the money.

Even still, while the contract negations are at a standstill, appearances are everything.

Now, many teachers are demanding that the school board dip into their reserves. Newer teachers, like Ashley Barnett, said they're having the hardest time financially and some even said they make less than they did four years ago.

"Why is it when a student is made to feel worthless, it's called 'bullying,' but when a teacher is made to feel worthless, it's called 'contract negotiations?'" Barnett said.

Because there is an ongoing contract negotiation, the board cannot comment.