Do school officials value the teachers of our children?
Years ago as a single parent living on a teacher’s salary I discovered that in order to provide the basic needs of my own children I had to set priorities, stick to a strict budget, and be creative with my limited funds.
By planning our menu for the entire month, purchasing food in bulk, cooking from scratch, going to the grocery store on a weekly basis only for fresh vegetables and fruit, etc., we were able to eat well and for the entire month. In fact one of my sons realized there was a monetary value in my homemade bread from freshly ground wheat. Until I caught on, he was selling sandwiches at school in exchange for McDonald’s hamburgers.
Some of you may remember the old Frostline Kits, well that was how my kids acquired their sleeping bags and their first clothing for snow play.
There was no cable or satellite TV expenses in our home, just good books and the occasional video on the weekends along with fresh popcorn popped in our air popper.
There were also no cell phones or car insurance for my teenagers. We did, however, have a snowblower that we all saved for by eating beans for three months.
In many ways I could say that my children were rich in that they were not spoiled, ate healthy, learned to appreciate the finer things in life that money can’t buy, and learned to budget and save. However, in other ways I am bitter.
After years of teaching and nurturing other people’s children at the elementary level, I do not have the resources to help my own children with their higher education. In addition to that, and this is the main reason for this letter, I can no longer afford to either continue teaching nor pay for my increased medical insurance costs. Each year my salary has not kept up with the cost of living increases in a dramatic way.
On the other hand, each of our school board members and our school superintendent receives full medical benefits at no cost to them. That is around $10,000 per board member. This is on top of the superintendent’s raise that he received this year and for the following two years. The board claims that the school district is in hard times and would love to do more for the staff, but the money is just not there. But it is there for their self interests.
I served on a local school board in Arcata, Calif., at which time I received no medical benefits nor any type of financial compensation. I considered my service as my civic responsibility to my community and country. I also learned through those years as a board member that school budgets were no different from my family budget in that if one is determined, creative, and disciplined there was always funds for your priorities.
Obviously, the teachers are not a priority for the majority of our local school board members or that of our superintendent.
In closing, if the teachers of our children truly were a priority, then a plan for a cost of living raise would have been put into the budget months ago.
Carolyn Keigley is a Truckee resident and teaches in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.
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