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Clay Parents, Teachers Upset Board Will Discuss Teacher Contracts During School

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Some Clay County parents will be holding their kids home from school Thursday to protest a School Board hearing in the middle of the day.

The Board will be considering teacher contracts that concern their pay and job stability.

Dana Baez is keeping her kid home. She says teachers shouldn’t have to choose between doing their jobs and taking a personal day to defend them.

”We moved from another county to come to the Clay County School District because we believe in it and because it is a good school district,” Baez says. “If your teachers aren’t happy, then your kids aren’t going to be happy  and it’s going to make a bad environment for your child to learn in.”

President of the Clay County Education Association Renna Lee Paiva says she’s seen parents' vowing to hold their kids home from school, and it doesn't sit well with her.

“It broke my heart to think that a parent would actually have to hold their child back because the chairman of the board and the superintendent decided to hold this special hearing at 9 'o clock on a Thursday morning when they know the interested parties in this, parents and teachers, are both either being parents or being teachers in a classroom,” she says.

School Board Chair Johnna McKinnon told the Florida Times-Union the 9 a.m. meeting time was picked to accommodate about a dozen key people who need to be present.  She says many Board members had to rearrange their schedules to land a date and time.

Until this point, the Board and teachers' union are at an impasse over teacher contracts. Several matters must be decided, including continued employment and salaries.

On Thursday, the Board will consider recommendations an independent magistrate made about the issues. Paiva says the teachers’ union is willing to accept all the magistrate's recommendations, and now it’s up to the board.

She says teachers want in their contracts that new hires with equal experience won’t be paid more than existing teachers. That would fix an issue with their current contract, she says.

“So for an example, a teacher with 10 years experience that’s been in Clay County for 10 years is on step seven. They only got seven years of experience and not 10,” she says. “But a new person coming in would get all 10 years.”

Teachers also want to be credited for training without being asked to fill out paperwork afterward.

Thursday’s meeting begins at 9 a.m. at Fleming Island High School.

WJCT reached out to McKinnon, but she was not available for an interview before this story’s deadline.