Santa Rosa school board sides with superintendent over teacher contract

Santa Rosa school board sides with superintendent over teacher contract

Santa Rosa County teachers will get a raise, but it is not the one they had hoped to receive.

On Thursday night, the school board unanimously sided with Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick's proposal, ignoring a ruling from a special magistrate judge.

"There is a responsibility for us to not spend money that we don't have," Vice-Chairperson Diane Scott said.

More than 200 members of Santa Rosa Professional Educators (SRPE) showed up at the meeting wearing red shirts. The board heard from a couple of them during the union's time to make their case.

Educators like Latricia Laurant, a 6th-grade teacher at Avalon Middle School, shared personal stories to support the need for a roughly 2.7 percent pay raise, as well as back pay for a full year. That was the union's proposal, which a special magistrate judge sided on.

However, it was not enough to convince a five-member board.

"We'll just keep negotiating, keep going, keep fighting, cause that's what teachers do," Laurant said. "Teachers are pliable; we adjust to the most uncomfortable circumstances because that's what we do. We didn't go into teaching to become rich, we do it because we love it."

Instead, roughly 2,500 instructors and support staff will get a 1.8 percent wage increase and their contract will be retroactive to July 1, 2017. Union representatives were not happy, but also not surprised.

"Disappointed that it happened, but this a longer, not a game, but this is something that's a process that's not over today," Matthew Hargraves, general counsel with SRPE said. "There are more steps to take."

Wyrosdick declined to comment on camera, but did provide WEAR-TV with a printed out, written statement directly after the vote. Wyrosdick said that he appreciates the board and their support. He adds that they managed the budget with "great fidelity." He also said that he loves and cares deeply for employees.

Employees will have to vote to ratify the contract.

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