SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Teachers in the Salt Lake City School District staged a silent protest during Tuesday night’s District Board meeting on budgets to ask for a 6% raise for all educators.
Teachers say salary negotiations had stalled; the district’s latest offer was a 3% raise which teachers felt was insufficient. About 200 teachers armed with red shirts and signs sat in on the meeting and then walked out.
Valerie Gates is a teacher at West High and participated in the protest Tuesday night. She explained, “Our goal was not just to show the local school board how we feel but also to bring attention to the state and state legislature.”
The teachers are demanding a 6% pay increase across the board to be able to compete with other districts in the area. James Tobler is the President of the Salt Lake Education Association; he said, “6% would increase our starting salary to 47,700. Still not 50,000 like in other districts, but if people do their homework they’ll see if they stay with the SLC District for eight or more years, they will make more money here.”
The teachers are also asking for smaller class sizes, paid parental leave, and an increase in per pupil spending.
Tobler expanded, “Our schools are hemorrhaging because we can’t keep anybody. Ultimately the problem is the state legislature in my opinion. The funding for education is horrendous in Utah.
The teachers say the district and the state can be more aggressive when it comes to taxes, and feel the community will be receptive if the money goes directly to teachers and their students.
There are no plans to expand their protest at this point, but Valerie Gates said, “If we feel that the students are not being served properly, if we don’t have enough money to get what we need in our classrooms and if we don’t have the money that we need to hire teachers to do the job properly, we can get pretty fierce.”