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Charles Peacock, a paraprofessional at New Smyrna Beach High School, tells the Volusia County School Board that he has recently been made homeless.

“We’re facing a crisis,” Volusia County Schools 2021 Rookie Teacher of the Year Shane Story told the Volusia County School Board. 

Story is an ESE teacher at David C. Hinson Sr. Middle School in Daytona Beach.

“There’s just not enough time. There’s not enough people,” Story said. “Teachers are leaving the district. Qualified, experienced teachers with decades of experience are leaving the district, because they feel overburdened. They feel disempowered to a point that they’ve given up hope.”

Story and others spoke at the School Board’s Nov. 9 meeting.

“I personally have recently been made homeless,” Charles Peacock said. Peacock is a paraprofessional at New Smyrna Beach High School. 

Peacock said he works multiple jobs and more than 80 hours a week with a minimalist lifestyle, and is currently living out of his car. 

“At this point after four years for the county, I make a minimum salary which equates to less than $1,000 per month in a position that should be made a career. This level of income keeps me in poverty,” Peacock said.

School Board members listened but didn’t respond to the heartfelt stories, because the comments were not on a topic on the Nov. 9 meeting agenda, which gives the public notice of what will be discussed at any given meeting. The board’s policy also prohibits members from responding specifically to any speaker from the public.

The hourly rate for a highly qualified paraprofessional in Volusia County Schools in 2021 is between $10.02 and, at maximum, $12.38.

Paraprofessionals run the gamut from parent liaisons to highly skilled language, vision and speech tutors. 

“I work with people every day who have to decide, can I go to the doctor or do I need to buy groceries? And that’s unacceptable,” said 27-year veteran ESE teacher Mary Tilford, speaking of paraprofessionals in Volusia schools. “They feel like they are left behind. But they get up every morning, and they do their job, and they do their jobs so well.”

“This group of people, these men and women, please consider giving them more money,” Tilford pleaded.  

“Based on all gathered sources, the minimum salary needed within Volusia County to survive — not thrive, but just survive — for one adult with one dependent is $29 an hour,” Peacock said. “I make $11. After six years.” 

Peacock told the School Board last year’s 3-percent raise equated to 30 additional cents per hour, while Volusia County’s cost of living increased by roughly 7 percent.  

“At least one of your employees … is homeless. Living out of his car, crashing on couches from time to time, and getting showers at friends’ houses,” Peacock said in an emotional appeal. “I dare you to look me in the eyes right here, right now, and tell me that this is OK.”

November’s personnel update to the School Board showed the resignations of 40 support staff and 25 teachers. Only 12 of those resignations were due to retirement.

As of Sept. 28, there were 129 vacancies in support positions, and 77 vacancies for classroom teachers. More than 100 of the support vacancies were for paraprofessionals.

While the district has hired 120 more teachers this year so far as compared to last year, leaves of absence and resignations are also up by nearly 100.   

The School Board approved an increase in pay for substitutes Oct. 26 to combat the problem.

The pay for a substitute paraprofessional is $11.44 per hour.

8 COMMENTS

  1. This is unbelievable!!!! I have several rentals & a few tenants got behind during the pandemic. Some of those got behind due to poor money management habits. The OUR FLORIDA rental assistance program has helped many renters, however, I’ve seen tenants handed over $6K to cover 1/2 year’s rent with no questions asked! All while we’re paying those responsible for educating or kids less than $100 day gross pay?!?!? This is NOT OK!!

  2. It takes $29 an hour to get by in Volusia County? That is absolutely ludicrous, since the vast majority of people in this area work in the hospitality industry making half of that. Other professionals in this area, like cops and firefighters, don’t make anywhere near that after 6 years. I didn’t even make $15 an hour as a substitute teacher in the north, and you think you’re going to do that in a state that doesn’t even have an income tax? If you aren’t happy with the pay, then get a job in the private sector. Taxpayers don’t owe you anything.

    • I guess we should make EVERYTHING private. A public educator is homeless and crying for help and you say “get another job”? Because clearly that solves ALL the problems. To hell with those kids and the school system thats being gutted. What does that teach our kids? That its not worth becoming a teacher. Say goodbye to the education system. I guess if you are rich, then its easy to turn a blind eye and sweep the real issues under that table. The problem is NOT the teacher asking for more pay. The problem is a SOCIETY that thinks its ok for this to happen.

    • Ashley, it seems like you do not care about your fellow humans, so I will spare any comment about compassion, since you are clearly not there. Let’s talk economics instead. It’s a simple law of supply and demand. The supply of teachers and paraprofessionals is very low, and the demand is very high. Therefore, you need to pay at least the amount of money that will fill the position. For the amount of work, patience, expertise, and care that goes into such positions, that means $50.00. an hour. I sincerely hope that you enjoy more compassion than yo offer to the world.

  3. It’s a shame. Clearly Florida DOES NOT care about thier children’s education. $11 is a joke. Pay the man the $29. They are teaching your children for christ sake! If teachers are not given the pay they deserve for molding yound minds and not given the respect for thier occupation, what is that teaching the youth? No wonder most of them are pessimist. They can’t even see themselves having a decent future as an educator. Smh. Do better Flori-duh!

  4. Public education is the foundation of our society. Without the teaching profession, our society would not function. How is it that those in the private sector succeed? Did they receive an adequate education? It is the responsibility of our government, of the citizens to support education for our well being and the well being of our children. I know of neighbors who do not pay their fair share of local taxes. Without state income tax, the importance of local taxes should be paid by all who live in this county. Teaching is a profession and should be supported by adequate pay and respect. We all need to pay our fair share.and support our public schools

  5. When a dollar amount like $29 is mentioned for one earner and one dependant, they are including things people should have that aren’t extravagant. Transportation, since public transit here is abysmal where it isn’t non-existent, health insurance, a decent rental or home, home insurance, the ability to buy food, clothes and pay for utilities with a small amount put towards retirement.
    Can you survive on $15? Yes. But you’ll be constantly on the brink of homelessness, and a single mishap can permanently derail your life.
    So no, it isn’t unreasonable to pay skilled workers $29 and hour.
    It’s unreasonable to expect them to quietly take $15 an hour while taxes are waived for Amazon, and our governor moves to waive the gas tax which primarily benefit people who can afford to travel.

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