Volusia County teachers take a stand

Educators refusing to work past their contracted hours

BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
DAYTONA TIMES

Volusia County teachers are showing their disapproval of unpaid work by beginning what is called “Work to the Contract.”

Working to the contract refers to teachers in Volusia County only working the contract hours for which they are paid.

According to Andrew Spar, Volusia Teachers Organization president, teachers on average, spend an additional three hours per day completing paperwork, attending meetings or training and/or attending after-school activities.

For now, teachers will not be participating in those unpaid activities.

Many concerns
Spar says this action stems from an ongoing concern that Volusia students and teachers are being shortchanged.

As previously reported in the Daytona Times, teachers in Volusia County have been asking the district and school board to address many concerns, including cleanliness of schools, lack of resources (including textbooks), lack of respect for those who work in the school system schools and lack of competitive pay.

At the Feb. 11 school board meeting, hundreds of teachers chanted, “What’s with 1 percent? We give a hundred percent!”

Last week, more than 2,000 teachers, support staff and parents participated each day in what was referred to as “walk-ins” to show unity and concern about the direction the school district is heading.

The adults and students in Volusia County teamed up before the school bell rang and walked in together to show solidarity.

Testy exchange
An exchange of words during contract negotiations last on March 5 got ugly when hundreds of teachers were unable to get into the boardroom of the DeLand Administrative Complex.

It had been requested that the location be changed to better accommodate teachers and community members who wanted to attend the public negotiations sessions.

During negotiations, Mike Dyer, chief council for Volusia County Schools, told Spar, “If you cannot control your people…” insulting those in attendance and throughout the district.

“This only shows how little respect this district and board have for the hardworking people in our district,” said Spar. “First, you lock them out of negotiations by selecting a location that is too small to hold those who wish to attend, and then you make a disparaging remark.”

Teachers speak out
The union states that teachers in Volusia County want what is best for their students. They want students to have clean schools, teachers with resources and time to assist them and they want to keep teaching in Volusia County.

“I have found it necessary on many occasions to use my time, planning and instructional, to clean my own classroom,” said Cindy Martin, teacher at Sweetwater Elementary.

“We have a curriculum map that gives us links to sites on the Internet,” said first-grade teacher Shirley Andersen. “I can find an adequate resource, after 30 to 60 minutes of Internet searching. That might give me one to three lessons that are appropriate for one to three days (math only).”

March 13 meeting
The Work to the Contract will continue until these issues are addressed by the district and the school board. Teachers are asking parents for help.

“We are asking parents to contact school board members and say that parents are supporting the teachers and have the same concerns,” said Patricia Randall, a teacher at Osteen Elementary School.

A parent-generated petition has been circulating online and has already generated more than 2,700 signatures.

The Volusia County School Board will meet at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 13, for a different reason – to hear from four search consultants who would like to lead the search to find the county’s next superintendent.

The board is searching for a successor for Superintendent Margaret Smith, who stepped down at the Jan. 27 school board meeting after 11 years.

Smith retired abruptly following comments from school board member John Hill who accused Smith of incompetence.

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