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FORT MYERS AREA | Teachers prepare for contract negotiations

Posted at 7:48 PM, Sep 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-15 06:56:32-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — We're just four days away from a meeting that could bring changes to your child's school.

Fox 4's Briana Brownlee spoke with the President of the Teacher's Association of Lee County (TALC) who said now is the time to fight for more money and better conditions.

In a few days, the teacher's union will meet again with the school district to negotiate a new contract. Educators don't like the deal that's on the table right now, so they're thinking of ways to make sure their demands are met.

“We can’t strike. Strikes are illegal [in Florida] so we can’t strike," said Kevin Daly, TALC president.

Frustrations continue to brew for educators in the Lee County School District and even though they can't strike, Daly said they can do what's called a work-for rule.

“Which means if you are supposed to be there from 7:30 to 2:00, you arrive at 7:30 you leave at 2:00 and you don’t take work home," Daly said.

That means no staying late to help with buses or after-school activities they don't get paid for.

“Honestly anyone will tell you, the whole system runs on the voluntary work of teachers," Daly said.

Educators continue to be vocal about the stress levels they are under—telling Fox 4 they are faced with oversize classrooms, teaching subjects they aren't certified in with limited resources.

“I am an English teacher and I have an Algebra 2 class because we don’t have anyone that can fill that position," said Amanda Blacketer Colucci, a Lee County teacher.

"That courtesy they extended is now becoming an expectation." Daly said.

At a school board workshop Wednesday, Lee County Superintendent Doctor Christopher Bernier said he hears the teachers' concerns.

“It's important that learners, educators, and employees, this board is committed to them— and to finding a pathway forward in a balanced budget to try and give them the compensation that they believe they deserve and we feel they have earned," Dr. Bernier said.

“We sacrificed, and we’ve done more than enough, and it’s time to think about how to fix the problem,"Daly said.

To fully fix the problem, Daly said the district and the state need to find a way to end the teacher shortage.