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First of all ~ to my regulars: I know this is a step away from my “normal” posts. I promise things are not changing here, the crafty, crazy, family fun will continue with my next post. I need to say this. I need people to hear it.
Dr. Evans and Paterson Board of Education:
Maybe you remember me from the meeting last night. I was the second speaker. I brought visual aids ~ my 5 year old twins, and I told you our story. Let me remind you of that story, and elaborate a bit. This pay freeze, and working without a contract affects many people, but I am going to tell you how it affects us, my family.
My husband, Douglas Rayot, has been teaching HS English in your district for 14 years. We have been together for nearly 11 of those years. We have planned our lives with his contracts in mind. We looked at those contracts, saw the increments, (pay scale) and knew basically what he would be getting paid every year forward. Even when new contracts were signed, the pay basically stayed the same, with a bit of an increase for inflation. So it was always safe to judge off the current contract, because the pay never went down. Even knowing that, we still added in a “safety zone,” just to be sure. After all, a few more years in an apartment before buying a house would be better than buying a house and having to sell it a few years later, right? So we planned. We thought we were doing it right. We thought that if he was accountable to his contracts, so were you.
We were wrong. He has been working without a contract for over 3 years now. His pay is frozen, yet you take more every year from his pay towards benefits. He is expected to follow the most recent contract, but you are not.
He works a second job. He started before the girls were born. We had a plan. Next year (13/14 school year) he was supposed to hit the last of the pay bubbles. He was supposed to be able to quit that second job this year, just as the girls started kindergarten. He was supposed to be home to help with homework, to eat dinner together, to be a family. He is not. He is home on Sundays, and half a day on Saturdays. If he is really lucky he may be home just in time to tuck the girls in one other night a week, but he is never home for dinner on weeknights, and certainly never home to help with homework. At least twice a week I have to comfort my daughters as they cry about missing Daddy.
This was supposed to be the year that things got a little easier financially, based on those previous contracts. Instead, you froze his pay just before the first of the bubbles.
14 years in district, and he brings home $400 a month less than he did 4 years ago. 14 years in district and you pay him under $54,000 a year. 14 years in district and he has to work a second job just to almost make ends meet. 14 years in district and he doesn’t get to tuck his children in most nights. 14 years in district and we may have to sell our home.
These are our children. They love life. They love their school. They love their friends. They love their home. Most of all, they love their Daddy (and their Mommy.) By freezing Doug’s pay, you have taken their Daddy away from them. If we do not see our increments by the end of the school year, we may have to sell their home. $400 a month less than 4 years ago, yet our bills keep going up. Gas prices go up. Grocery prices go up. Our savings is gone. We borrowed against his retirement to get us through this school year, but that will be gone by June. We are broke, and we are broken. You broke us.
Yet he goes in every day. He has perfect attendance. He always has perfect attendance. I think in 14 years, he has not had perfect attendance 2 or 3 times out of the 28 attendance sections. He goes in to work and gives his all. He makes a difference in those kid’s lives. They come back and tell him so. You are beyond blessed to have him. Yet look what you do to him.
Doug is a phenomenal teacher. He is a wonderful husband. He is an amazing father. He does not deserve what you are doing to him. Neither do our children. Neither do the rest of your teachers or their families.
When you sit down in contract negotiations, when you talk about whether or not to lift the pay freeze, when you decide whether or not to actually negotiate the contract, I don’t want you to see dollar signs. You are not talking about budget, you are talking about people. Your teachers and their families. Doug, Kyla, Vada, and me. Go ahead, print out the pictures of my girls, and bring them with you. When you feel the pressure from those invisible forces that are telling you to keep the freeze, to not truly negotiate, look at Kyla and Vada. They miss their Daddy. They don’t want to lose their home. Think of them, and save them. It is in your hands. You have the power to bring them happiness, or to devastate them.
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