Daytona Beach, FL – Teachers from across Volusia County put down their pens and grabbed protest signs, making their case to the public that they deserve more money and more support from the school district.
Volusia United Educators says hundreds of educators gathered at six of the busiest intersections in the county this afternoon (September 28th), protesting what VUE President Andrew Spar calls “extremely contentious” contract negotiations with Volusia County Schools.
“The teachers and staff in Volusia County feel like they don’t have a voice, don’t have the support and resources that they need to meet students where they are, and that’s what every teacher wants,” Spar added. “We want to stop the drain that we’re seeing of teachers and staff who are leaving Volusia County.”
Four of those intersections were in East Volusia, including International Speedway and Clyde Morris boulevards in Daytona Beach near Mainland High School, Clyde Morris and Granada boulevards in Ormond Beach, Clyde Morris and Dunlawton Avenue in Port Orange and State Road 44 and Mission Road in New Smyrna Beach.
The others were at US 17/92 and State Road 15A in DeLand and Howland and Elkcam boulevards in Deltona.
VUE – which represents most Volusia County Schools teachers – and VCS have held numerous bargaining sessions since the expiration of the last contract, but Spar says both sides still remain apart on various key issues.
“Four years ago, 56% of our elementary schools were rated A or B,” Spar noted. “Today, only 28% of our elementary schools are rated A or B. We’re just concerned with the direction our district is going.”
Though improved teacher pay is one of VUE’s goals, Spar says there are other problems which are a bigger sticking point to the union, including making sure teachers have adequate time and resources to plan lessons and a de-emphasis on testing.
“The negotiations have really gotten nowhere. I would argue we really haven’t negotiated,” Spar added. “We maybe spent three hours out of eight sessions in which we actually talked. The rest of the time, it’s been more combative and confrontational on the side of the district.”
Having said that, Spar did admit that he sees a bit of a “silver lining” because of two recent meetings he’s had with VCS Superintendent Tom Russell, bypassing the Tampa-based negotiation group the county hired to deal with VUE’s contract.
“I’m meeting with him again Thursday of next week, which I’m hoping might actually get us to where we need to go so we can get back to the table and try to resolve these issues,” Spar said.
No date has been set to resume negotiations, per Spar.