ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. - Teachers in the Francis Howell School District are getting a raise, but not the one they were hoping for. But now they’re furious and many are worried about how it will affect the students.
Leaders with the Francis Hall Education Association said 80 percent of the membership voted against the contract offered by the district, so they're going to work to contract.
Two minutes after the meeting started, it was over. The Francis Howell Board of Education voted overwhelmingly for a two percent pay raise and lanes for most teachers.
Mindy Resnick, who helped Francis Howell Education Association with negotiations, said that’s not enough to compensate for all the extra hours teachers put in.
“Well we wanted a two percent increase and a lane change, which would be a four percent increase in total. We haven’t asked for an increase in 10 years, so I think that’s incredibly fair,” she said. “We also asked for people to bring clubs to get more money because right now they are the lowest paid. We can’t even get people to coach.”
While all members of the board declined to comment, district spokesman Matt Deichmann said it boils down to fiscal responsibility after a third attempt to levy a tax was shot down.
“We can’t do a lot in terms of increasing the pay beyond what was done given our current financial situation. The district has made a lot of changes and expenditures, reduced staff to right size the budget,” Deichmann said. “The board felt again that spending some of the surplus money from last year was responsible, whereas spending potential future funds would not be fiscally responsible.”
For the 2016-2017 school year the Francis Howell District had just under 22 percent in cash reserves. The board policy mandates it has to have between 15 and 20 percent on hand to avoid borrowing.
“And they’re choosing not to spend it on us while spending millions of dollars on building improvements and such, which we do need, but what are you improving but there are no teachers to teach," Rensick said.
Many teachers said they’re not going to do anything extra they’re not paid for, such as parent-teacher nights, helping at sporting events, and going to graduation.
“We are worried that if teachers do work to contract, then we will have to cancel some after-school activities, some field trips, and that sort of things…and that will probably negatively impact students,” Rensick said.
A problem many school districts are facing as teachers push for pay across the country.
"If teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Arizona fought for this 20 years ago then they wouldn't have 40-year-old textbooks and we're not about to be there. We want the best teachers here and we believe that we should have that for students," said Anita Kuehner, the President of the Francis Howell Education Association.
The FHEA wants to go back to the table, but the district spokesperson said this contract will hold for the next academic year.