La Crosse teachers lambaste school board over pay, morale issues

School District

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Several La Crosse School District teachers gave the school board a hard lesson in math Monday night on their financial struggles and a lecture on flagging morale because they feel undervalued.

A large crowd of educators applauded the presentations of roughly a dozen other teachers on their financial struggles and morale issues. Their addresses, which can be viewed on the district’s YouTube channel during the public comments part of the board meeting, also brought cheers from the assembly.

As a matter of policy, board members don’t comment during the public comment period.
Logan High School teacher Brock Harney scoffed at what he said are school officials’ indicating they are “waiting for a windfall” as the only way to pay more.

“It feels like the equivalent of ‘thoughts and prayers,’” Harney said.

Recalling the adjustments teachers had to make during COVID-19 and the stress they endured amid tough conditions, Harney said, “We went to the mat for this district” during the pandemic.

A consumer price increase figure of 4.7 percent and inflation projections are dwarfing the teachers’ proposed 2% raise, said Harney and other teachers who spoke.

“Where there is a will, there is a way,” he said, adding, “I know there is a way — I question the will.”

Harney also said teachers feel disconnected from the board because they send emails regarding conditions that remain unanswered.

Teacher Lindsey Fox decried local schools as becoming a “district of revolving doors” because pay and benefits are better elsewhere.

Jennifer Kies, who said she has taught in the district for 27 years, invited board members to “come into our schools” not just for first-day visits but to observe all of the work that goes into teaching, including the “joys and the sorrows.”

“After taking it for 27 years, I’m done,” she said, adding that she agrees with another teacher who says, “Paying us what we’re worth is a whole other conversation.”

Alison Spohn lamented that she and her husband fear that their dream of homeownership is disappearing.

Although Spohn said she has taken a second job in addition to teaching, she said her paychecks used to cover basic needs such as rent and other everyday bills, they “don’t dent” bills now.

The couple has dipped into savings they hoped to stockpile to buy their own home and has accumulated credit card debt, she said.

At least, Spohn said, teacher pay should “match inflation.”

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