Prepare for a mass exodus

Published 9:46 pm Thursday, March 23, 2017

To the editor:

The Suffolk School Board approved a proposed budget for 2017-2018 on Tuesday, despite several weeks of public outcry from teachers, students and parents, who also had a strong presence at the meeting.

One school board member stated to a sign-holding teacher that she felt bullied by the teachers who were speaking out.
As a teacher in Suffolk, I’d like to break this down as simply as possible. If the 1-percent pay increase proposed by the Suffolk School Board is adopted, I will be paid $49 more each month, but my insurance premium to keep the same HMO will increase $324 each month.

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Let’s dig even further. Under the current salary scales for teachers in adjoining cities, this school year I would have been paid $3,303 more in Chesapeake, $3,257 more in Virginia Beach and $4,529 more in Portsmouth.

Listen to your frustrated teachers. Do you see the numbers adding up? Why should we settle for thousands less in annual pay than our peers in neighboring cities and accept a cost increase of almost $4000 to stay on the same insurance plan?

The worst aspect to all of this is that I absolutely love my job. I wake up feeling blessed to teach such wonderful students, to have such amazing co-workers and to be led by fantastic administrators.

I do not want to leave this job that I love, but I am a widowed mother of three amazing kids, and they must come first. I cannot sacrifice time away from them any more by working one or two part-time jobs. I will not put the school system’s needs ahead of our own.

I chose not to leave three years ago when Suffolk had a mass exodus of teachers over pay. I cannot afford to do so anymore.

As are so many of my co-workers, I am seeking employment elsewhere in education, as well as other professions.

I have nothing but praise for our superintendent. In my opinion, he has done a great job, and I’ve enjoyed working under his administration. My cry is directed to the School Board and to the City Council.

If our Superintendent is worth keeping, but you can’t retain the wonderful teachers you’ve employed, what is going to happen? Your new teachers are looking elsewhere, your experienced teachers are looking elsewhere and your veteran teachers with 25-30 years of experience are planning for retirement.

Look ahead, Suffolk Public Schools. There are consequences for decisions you are currently making. The saddest part is that it will be the same students whom we love to teach who will suffer the most.

Karen Pierce