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Teachers say they can't afford to live in Pinellas County

Pinellas County teachers and staff are asking school board members to pay them more with inflation costs and rising rent.

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Pinellas County school board members approved its 2022-23 budget, but teacher's raises were not secured.

Teachers attended the school board and budget meeting on Tuesday and said they need to be paid more because they can't afford to live in Pinellas County.

“I am here again begging, please give us a substantial raise," a St. Petersburg high school teacher said during the public comment portion of the meeting. 

Support staff employees also asked for a salary raise.

"With a student in college and being a single parent and the rise in costs of rent, I just simply ask as a support staff needing and deserving a decent salary," a Pinellas County school employee said.

School district leaders proposed a starting salary of $52,000 and a 4% average base salary increase. That was previously denied by teachers who said it’s just not enough.

School officials said on Sept. 6, the district offered the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association an increase in teachers’ compensation package totaling between 6.21% and 7.42%. It also includes the compensation listed below.

  • 4% average base salary increase

  • PCSB to pay 100% of health care increases (equal to a 1% salary increase)

  • Two additional paid planning days (equal to a 1.21% salary increase)

  • Additional two paid planning days for ESE teachers (equal to an additional 1.21% salary increase for that group)

Officials confirmed that PCTA rejected the district’s offers and requested additional data before scheduling any future bargaining sessions.

This October, Manatee County teachers will make a starting salary of $55,000, and Pinellas County teachers said it's time they see a big salary increase.

"They want to stay in Pinellas, they want to live and work in Pinellas, but they are having a hard time meeting their bills," PCTA President Nancy Velardi said.

Velardi also said some teachers have no choice but to quit. 

"They adore teaching. They don’t want to leave teaching, but most of them are being forced out because they simply can’t afford to teach here," she said. 

Pinellas board members recognized that but said money in the budget has to be spent specifically. 

"The money from the state is very specifically allocated. We have to spend these dollars in very certain places," said Pinellas school board member Laura Tillinghast Hine.

Hine said she asked teachers and support staff for solutions. 

"I would love ideas on how we can increase the money in or change the money out," she said.

While the 2022-23 budget was passed, teacher salaries still have not been determined. 

A spokeswoman for Pinellas County schools said district officials are meeting to talk about support staff salaries on Wednesday.

Officials are scheduling the next bargaining session with the teachers association to determine teacher salaries. 


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