TAMPA, Fla. – Hundreds of Jefferson High School students walked out of class and protested in support teacher salary increases Wednesday morning.

The Hillsborough County Public Schools told the teacher’s union in October it would not distribute the raises because of continued financial pressures, according to our news partners at the Tampa Bay Times. The raises would be about $4,000 for qualified teachers.

Hillsborough County Public Schools issued the following statement Wednesday morning:

Our district has given our employees more than $200 million in pay and benefits increases over the past four years, despite a district financial picture that was not promising.

Because of that, our district’s fund balance – which is like our savings account – has dropped dramatically as increased pay has been given out, while at the same time funding from the Legislature has not kept up with the amount needed to pay for our additional costs.

As a district, we have to balance priorities and budgets every year to focus on all aspects of what it takes to help students succeed.

On Oct. 30, about two dozen teachers gathered in the parking lot of Steinbrenner High School to protest the district’s decision.

The average annual salary for a Florida teacher was $47,858.26 for the 2016-2017 school year, according to data from the Florida Department of Education. The average teacher salary in Hillsborough is $49,910, second only in the Bay area to the annual salary of teachers in Sarasota County which is $54,524.

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Chart: Average Florida teacher salary by county for 2016-17 school year