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'We're just trying to support our families': St. Johns County teachers hold protest over low pay

A couple dozen teachers gathered at the fort in St. Augustine to draw attention to the issue.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — The yard right in front of the St. Augustine Fort was full of teachers, retired teachers and their spouses Sunday - protesting that they want to see more pay.

They're hoping it will catch the district's attention.

"It's a creative job, and when you're able to work with the kids and feel like you're making a difference and feel like these are people who are going to make a difference in the future, then that's really a privilege to be able to work with them," said Protesting Teacher Danielle Babineau.

Babineau has spent 15 years 'making a difference' as a social studies teacher in St. Johns County Schools.

As much as she loves it, she can't help but feel like she and her other teachers should be compensated better, especially the ones with a lot of experience.

"Every year, you're stuck at the same level, and then there's a bonus," said Babineau. "We need to see, there've been some shifts, but certainly not enough to live in St. Johns County with the way things are going."

The issue in St. Johns County is representative of the state as a whole.

According to the National Education Association, Florida ranks 16th in the nation is starting teacher pay, slightly above average, but only 48th in average teacher salary, just two grand above the minimum livable wage.

National Education teacher salary break down by state

"It's the same as it was when I was teaching," said Joyce Stucki, who retired after 34 years teaching. "It hasn't changed."

The most recent salary schedule available online for St. John County is for last school year.

It shows a teacher who's been in the district for ten years only makes about $700 more than a brand new teacher, and it takes 17 years to reach the state average pay.

St. Johns County teacher salary schedule

"We're not trying to be unreasonable," said Babineau. "We're just trying to support our families and stay in this state and in this district."

The protestors are hoping this kind of attention will lead to a meeting between the union and the district to try to reach a compromise.

First Coast News reached out to the St. Johns County School District Sunday for a response to the protest, but did not receive a response yet.


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