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Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association Proposes Teacher Salary Increase

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - The Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association is pushing hard for a raise.

This comes as teachers struggle to keep up with expenses following the first week of school.

The Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association asked for 11.3% raise based off of inflation but the district's bargaining committee rejected that number, and now the teacher's association is coming up with a different proposal.

"It's very tiring to just hear year after year that you're not enough. You're not enough, you're not good enough," said Paula Stephens, a teacher in Pinellas County Schools.

Stephens says teachers have needed a substantial raise for years.

"I train other teachers over the Summer and throughout the year to supplement my income because I can't make it just on what we have," said Stephens.

She's been teaching for 25 years and her daughter started teaching two years ago...and then recently quit.

"She was a Kindergarten teacher and she did not return to work this Fall. She was unable to move out in an apartment on her own because her starting salary was not enough," said Stephens.

It's an issue that the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association is not taking lightly.

"This year it's particularly bad because of supply chain problems, raising the prices, the cost of everything," said Nancy Velardi, president of the Association.

The association is meeting with the district's bargaining team to negotiate teacher's salaries.

"To help mitigate the problems they're having finding housing and paying their bills," said Velardi.

Last week, Velardi asked for teachers to get an 11.3% raise, and the bargaining committee counter-proposed 3.25%.

"We understand the restrictions, but we also understand teachers deserve a higher raise than what they have been given the last few years," said Velardi.

Now Velardi is drafting a new proposal with new numbers, and she says she won't stop trying until teachers get fair pay.

"I do think that the change will come, but it's a slow change because it's a huge change. I just hope people will be patient and wait it out," said Velardi.

The two groups will be meeting again on Monday.

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