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Teachers let board know they expect raises next year

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By Tom Wilmoth

    Don’t expect Bedford County teachers to be quite as understanding this upcoming budget year if raises aren’t included as part of the package.
    Bedford County Education Association President Cheryl Sprouse said teachers plan to make their feelings clearly known to both the school board and the board of supervisors as the 2013-2014 budget is crafted.
    “For the last five years we have been very, very kind,” Sprouse said. “(But) we can no longer stay where we are right now. We’re not going to go away.”
    Sprouse said it’s time for the two boards to take care of the teachers. “We’re working ourselves to the bone,” she said.
    Former BCEA President Dina Linkenhoker said teachers are leaving Bedford County for other school systems, with better pay, at an alarming rate. Ultimately she said that hurts the students.
    She said a small bonus is like putting “a band aid on a compound fracture.”
    Karen Nuzzo, also from the BCEA, gave a PowerPoint presentation to the school board. She said teachers want their step increases reinstated to the proper levels and a 6 percent raise to help the teachers catch up with cost-of-living increases they’ve faced without a raise.
    “We’re your greatest asset, treat us like that,” she told the board.
    Nuzzo said many teachers have had to take second jobs, which takes away their focus from the students. “It’s a matter of fairness,” she said. “Many (teachers) have been leaving the county so they can make more money.”
    Ultimately, Nuzzo said the county’s teachers want the school board to “have our backs.”
    “Our attention is focused on the children,” she said. “We work amazingly long hours. … All the teachers want is to be treated fairly.”