Teacher asks board to fight for raises


News Leader | by Julia Roberts | October 28, 2020

The Nassau County School Board heard from a member of the Nassau Teachers’ Association, the union that represents teachers in Nassau schools, who asked the board to support teachers in current contact negotiations.

At the school board’s regular meeting Thursday, Jim Glackin, a teacher at Fernandina Beach High School, addressed board members about teacher raises. He said current offers by the Nassau County School District include a $5,000 increase for new teachers, but only $600 for more experienced teachers. Glackin noted a “mass exodus of non-retiring teachers we have been seeing recently” and said current contract talks are not addressing the issue.

Last year, the school board considered putting a referendum on the November 2020 ballot that would have allowed voters to approve, or disapprove, an increase in the ad valorem tax rate in order to bring more money to the district. In light of the financial hardships brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, though, board members did not pursue the matter. Glackin referred to the referendum when he addressed the board.

“We are currently voting, and (we) could be voting on a small tax increase to help alleviate some of our budget worries, but you took that off the table,” Glackin said. “Teachers and students are the ones bearing the brunt of those decisions.”

Glackin suggested the school district “propose a pay scale that makes sense” even though, he said, the Florida Department of Education would reject it.

“When they do (reject a pay scale offer), fight for us. Remind them that you were elected to run Nassau County schools and not (the state),” Glackin said. “As teachers, we fight for our students every day. We’re just asking you to fight for us.”

Board members had been cautioned by school board attorney Brett Steger not to talk about salary issues at the meeting since the teachers union and school district are currently in negotiations, so board members did not respond to Glackin’s comments.

In other business:

• Superintendent Kathy Burns provided an update about the coronavirus numbers in Nassau County schools. She said no new students tested positive for the virus for the week of Oct. 12-16, though one staff member did. Two students and three staff members were quarantined. For the week of Oct. 17-21, there were two students and one staff member who tested positive, while 17 students were quarantined due to close contacts and no staff members were quarantined.

• The school board approved a 2020-21 Project Priority List in relation to the most recent five-year work plan approved June 8, 2019. The list is completed every year and approved by the board prior to sending it to state education department for state approval.

The projects on the list are a $5.6 renovation of Fernandina Beach High School, $6.2 million of additions to Wildlight Elementary, a $12.8 million addition to Yulee High School, $9.8 million for new classrooms at Yulee Middle School, $707,000 for a new kitchen and cafeteria at Yulee Primary School, and additional classrooms with a price tag of $881,000 at Yulee Primary.

• Board members reappointed Linda Morris to the Nassau County Planning and Zoning Board, approved a K-12 assessment calendar, and a contract with Genetic Potential Academy (GPA) for an employee fitness program.