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'I can't work for the salary offered by the district:' Teachers continue fighting for fair wages in St. Johns County

More than two dozen employees stood up during Tuesday night's school board meeting telling members they feel undervalued, underpaid, and burdened.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — St. Johns County teachers continue to demand better pay and additional resources so they don't have to dig into their own pockets for classroom materials. 

More than two dozen employees stood up during Tuesday night's school board meeting telling members they feel undervalued, underpaid and burdened and the district's expectations of teachers are unreachable.

"Crayons for students who did not bring them: $40. Tissues for students who don't bring them at least $30, before flu season," said Former St. Johns County teacher Jennifer Draper.

Draper says these are just some of the classroom supplies and necessities teachers' pay for out of their own pockets. 

"Printer ink: $400. Snacks for students who have no snack, that's limitless," Draper continued. 

Teachers say supplies are difficult for them to afford and are demanding a pay raise. 

"We're tired of doing our job for the breadcrumbs that you have given us," another teacher added. 

This protest comes after failed negotiations over fair wages between the school district and the teachers' union. 

St. Johns County teacher Devon Schweidel told the school board Tuesday she is leaving her position because of the low pay. 

"This Friday will be my last day in the classroom and let's be clear this is because I cannot afford to remain a teacher. I can't work for the salary offered by the district. It's incompatible with the current work expected from teachers," she said.

Another teacher says she struggles to support her family. 

"What if an emergency happens in my home, the roof comes off my house. I cannot sit around and wait for a new stream of money to be created. I must tap into my savings to quickly fix my roof before my whole house crumbles," another teacher added. 

After hours of conversation, even a Nassau County teacher showed up to support St. Johns County teachers.

"Year after year, your teachers bring home the number one ranking. And in return, you offer them a pay raise that doesn't even keep up with inflation. You're asking them to take a pay cut," a Nassau County teacher told school board members. "When Nassau County overtakes you as the number one school district in this state. I don't want it to be because your teachers left I want it to be because of the improvements we made thank you for your time."

The St. Johns County School district has dozens of vacancies district wide. The school district declined to immediately respond to our request for comment in response to the criticism.  

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