Orange County

Hundreds of Florida teachers rally for change in Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida teachers rallied in Tallahassee Monday for higher wages, improved school funding and policy changes.

Buses packed with teachers, parents and advocates departed from Howard Middle School Monday around 7:30 a.m. to have their voices heard.

“Today we hope that Tallahassee hears us and everyone in the state hears us,” said Wendy Doromal, of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association. “It’s about working conditions, it’s about class size, it’s about autonomy.”

Thousands from across the state took part in the rally for public education. In Orange County, 350 teachers took the day off to support the cause -- about the same number who were out this time last year. Lake County Schools said it used substitutes to cover some classrooms, while Seminole and Osceola counties said they didn’t have any staffing issues.

“It’s the pay. It’s the respect. It’s the workload,” said Orange County teacher Fran Kniel. “...Most teachers, it’s a calling and we’re here for the kids but we deserve some respect and we deserve to be paid more.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed boosting the minimum pay for teachers to $47,500, but critics worry that would leave behind more experienced teachers.

“I’m a little annoyed with DeSantis trying to start new teachers out at a high salary,” said Erika Rosenbusch of Union Park Middle School. “That’s great (that) they’re getting living wages but what about all of us veteran teachers who have been trudging through not being able to keep roofs over our heads?”

Karen Parks

Karen Parks,

Karen Parks is a reporter at WFTV.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

Michael Lopardi

Michael Lopardi

Michael Lopardi joined Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter in April 2015.