DeLand, FL - Bargaining sessions between the Volusia County School District (VCSD) and the teachers union, Volusia United Educators (VUE), continue this week for both teachers and support staff. During last Tuesday's regular Volusia County School Board (VCSB) meeting, Charles Peacock, currently a paraprofessional with the VCSD and making $11 an hour, spoke to the board about his current living situation. VUE President Elizabeth Albert said Peacock is currently living out of his car. She said that someone working for the biggest employer in the county should not be in that situation. "When you're earning a poverty level wage and struggling to survive, it's very difficult to stay in that situation. I don't know how our children are going to continue to be able to have folks come and work with them when the school district can't or isn't wanting to compete with local businesses."
During a break, several people offered monetary help to Peacock. Albert said that Peacock told them that wasn't the point. "Helping him as an individual is great, and it's noble, and it's wonderful, but it doesn't fix the problem for the next person and Mr. Peacock is determined to make change for everyone, not just himself."
On Tuesday this week, VUE will be bargaining for teachers. Albert said the district has not yet submitted a salary proposal for teachers. She said the Florida Department of Education (FDE) has given the district money for new hires but they are not sending money to retain teachers. "What's happening is the floor is going up but the ceiling isn't moving. That's the reality of what's happening as far as salary goes in our public schools. That is not a good strategy to retain teachers in a field where folks are already showing that they are not interested in working."
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