Hamilton County teachers voice concerns to school board
Hamilton County teachers voiced their frustrations in front of the school board and County Commission Sunday. Over the summer, the Commission voted down a 34-cent property tax increase and last month, they also voted down a wheel tax referendum.
The meeting took place at Brainerd Youth and Development Center and was moderated by Channel 3's David Carroll. The room was so packed, the overflow had to stand in the hallway. This was all in an effort for their voices to be heard regarding concerns with the 2020 school budget and teacher pay.
Hamilton County United is a teachers group fighting for justice in the school system. They believe it was imperative teachers show up and be heard.
"I'm really here because I want Hamilton County to be a school district that every teacher for 90 miles around wants to teach in, and I think that if we can accomplish that one of the ways we need to do that is increase teacher pay," Carrie Bishop, an 8th grade teacher at Hixson Middle School, said.
Better compensation for teachers was at the center of it all. It's hard for Hamilton County to recruit and retain teachers when they can't offer what other counties can.
Bishop lost a co-worker for that reason.
"When you lose people like that, you can't replace them. She went to one of our private schools in the area and it creates a void that can't be filled," Bishop said.
According to Chief Talent Officer, Keith Fogleman, the county lost 32 teachers before fall break, which is higher than normal. Teachers believe increasing pay will help reduce that turnover. The wheel tax referendum, which would have paid for teacher raises, was struck down in a 5-3 vote by the commission.
The five commissioners who voted against it weren't at the meeting.
"They're not here. How do I get across our point of what we need when you're not even here to listen to us,” Heather Modrow, a Special Education teacher at East Ridge Elementary, expressed to us.
Even with those five commissioners missing, teachers are still hopeful. They know there are no solutions to how they will receive funds for a raise, but they believe the officials are listening to their requests.
"We are here, we have a voice, we're ready to use our voice. I think progress has been started,” Modrow told us.
Teachers believe today was a great start toward getting compensated fairly and that more meetings like this need to happen in order to become closer to finding a solution.