“Orlando is not the place to teach. Spread the word,” were some of the harsh words posted by Orange County Classroom Teachers Association President Diana Moore this week. The latest bad news for local teachers hit hard as a new national study ranked Orange County teachers as some of the lowest paid in the entire nation.
Orange County ranked 95th out of 125 big school districts in the National Council on Teacher Quality study. This news is not good for recruitment; both in terms of recruiting the quality teachers our community deserves, but also in terms of recruiting businesses and families looking to relocate. It also poses a big threat to retention of the quality teachers Orange County currently has, but may soon lose.
Moore says the average starting teacher salary in Orange County is around $37,500. It takes Orange County teachers almost 30 years just to earn a yearly salary of $75,000 according to the national study.
“I am not surprised but I am ashamed. I’m ashamed and I think parents should be asking questions,” Moore, who is also a third grade teacher, told Fox 35 News. “It takes 10 years to go from $37,000 to $40,000 on our pay schedule. Ten years! That’s why that study was over a 30 year career, and that’s why I’m saying we are $10,000 behind the national average.”
Earlier this year, School Board Chairman Bill Sublette acknowledged the problem. “Pay could be better for teachers, and I think it’s a giant problem in our country,” Sublette told Brighthouse News back in April. “The tragedy, Sublette said, is what the teacher makes after 15 or 20 years of teaching.”
Yet nothing is changing. That is why the Classroom Teachers Association is calling on the district to increase teachers’ salaries by 6-percent. And Orange County has the money. In fact, the district recently awarded Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins a raise on her nearly quarter million dollar salary.
“How about asking OCPS school board where they spent your $90 million dollar property tax you just renewed?” asked CTA President Diana Moore on Facebook. “When your financial ratio shows your saving rate at 32% with a $413 Million Fund Balance, why are Orange County teachers 95th out of 113 in the largest districts in USA?”
“We are the 10th in size with 190,000 students and they just gave Dr. Jenkins her $10,000 raise and 10% Performance Pay on her $240,000 salary for the Broad Prize? Who are the folks on the front lines?” Moore asks.
Education and quality teachers are key components to a community’s quality of living. Just this week, the Orange County Commission listened to a marketing presentation on the newly adopted “Orlando, you don’t know the half of it” motto to lure businesses to relocate to the area. The revelation from the new study presents a big problem in that selling point – “you don’t know the half of it, our teachers are some of the lowest paid!”
This news follows reports in October about dozens of Orange County schools being decontaminated for mold. The poor conditions currently facing local teachers goes beyond just pay. The current conditions are impacting teachers’ health and their quality of life in Orange County.
“Orlando is not the place to teach. Spread the word,” Moore posted online. “We came in 95th in the country of the large districts, yet the citizens pay a one mil property tax to retain and attract teachers? They take 33 cents of every dollar and put it in savings versus student programs or teacher raises. $413 Million fund balance at the end if 2013 and we are ranked 95th for a 30 year career after Polk, Pinellas, and Miami? Yes, send your résumé elsewhere.”