Teachers pack OCPS board meeting after rejecting contract offer

Ken Tyndall reports.

ORLANDO, Fla. — For the first time, Orange County teachers have rejected a contract offer from the school district—and many have packed into a school board meeting to explain why.

After the ballots were counted, the vote wasn’t even close. Orange County teachers overwhelmingly rejected the district’s pay offer, which went down in defeat by a 4-to-1 margin.

“I think what it should say is that teachers love their students. Teachers love what they do, and they should be treated with fair value,” said Robert Prater, an Orange County Schools dean.

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Prater said he is a dean who’s covered by the teacher’s contract. He voted no.

“There’s going to have to be some input from the teachers when you have that many that voted no,” he said.

While the district was offering a pay rise, opponents said the extra money would be wiped out by higher insurance costs.

The district said the higher premiums are needed to offset a rising health care deficit.

“We need to consider where the money is and where it can be tapped,” said Wendy Doromal, the president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association.

Doromal said she will ask the district to move money from its reserve account to cover the insurance costs.

“We really need to be able to relieve some of the financial woes of teachers. Teachers should not be working more than one job,” she said.

Last night’s vote was the first time Orange County teachers rejected a contract offer. Nearly 5,000 voted, which the union said was a record.