Teachers in public schools all around Hillsborough County, including Riverview High School, are unifying due to concerns over salaries and past agreements with the Hillsborough County School Board.
The teachers at Riverview will be continuing to take a stand by working to contract on the week after Thanksgiving Break. Teachers are paid to work from 7:20 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. daily. During that week, a large majority of teachers will be strictly working to those hours only. Meaning no before or after school preparation. There are some concerns about unpaid tutoring or later-graded papers, though teachers assure no change.“Students should be unaffected by our movement,” said RVHS teacher and school associate union representative Rob Kriete.
Previously, the teacher unity rallied outside of the school every morning for a week. At 7 a.m. for around 15 minutes, teachers of Riverview High protested along Boyette Road. Supporters of the teacher’s union believe the rally went quite well; they’re hoping the county school board recognizes the effect of the community behind the teachers.
According to Valerie Chuchman, union representative for RVHS, Classroom Teachers Association Board member and chemistry teacher at Riverview, the goal of the union is to attract attention towards the current situation in order to pressure school board into upholding the promised contract concerning teacher’s salaries. Teachers have been working for four months without a contract, which would include the new performance pay scale offered about four years ago by the district.
The HCSB promised to honor the pay scale in 2013-14, but is currently freezing it due to lack of funds. The union believes teachers are feeling disregarded by the district and are taking a stand along with parents, colleagues and fellow members of the community.
“You can’t say you’re putting students first if you’re putting teachers last,” said Chuchman.
Many teachers believe that School Board has the funds, but is making the decision to freeze them.
“Some of us believe that School Board is trying to increase the reserve funds, due to the economic downturn in the earlier 2000’s,” said Kriete.
While the only ones truly affected by this situation are teachers and support staff, other faculty at high schools are behind them.
RVHS Principal Danielle Shotwell explained that she understands the teachers’ position, and hopes there is a peaceful resolution to the issue.
“I think the teachers have been respectfully communicating their displeasure, and the fact that they’re trying not to affect the students really shows the intentions are pure,” Shotwell said.