Concern for the teachers

On November 3, 2020, there is a very important local election for the Lexington Richland School District Five Board of Trustees. Three seats are up this year and two incumbents are running for those seats along with a candidate they have endorsed for the third seat.

Robert Gantt (Richland) and Michael Cates (Lexington) are the two incumbents running for their seats again and they are endorsing April Alsup (Lexington) to fill Beth Hutchison’s seat. Hutchison has chosen not to run for reelection.

Teachers need to pay close attention to this election. This year, after the pandemic, teachers were not given their step increases (pay raises). They were told by the district that this was a problem at the state level, since the state budget was not approved yet.

However, our district received $1.6M in CARES Act funds—-the exact same amount that the CFO of the district claims would be needed to fund these raises for the teachers. The CFO claims those funds were used to pay bus drivers and food service workers during the pandemic—money that should have already been budgeted. He has since clarified that the money was possibly put away for the future. Well, the future is NOW. These teachers are working harder than they ever have. Many of them are teaching both in person and virtual classes. They are doing double lesson plans, working dawn until dusk checking on their students, and dealing with numerous safety protocols, but yet our rich school district, who put away this money for the future, cannot make a decision to give our teachers what is essentially a cost of living raise?

Mr. Cates (Chair) and Mr. Gantt (Secretary) could have pressed this issue. Trustee Loveless actually asked about this at the last board meeting, but the board officers did not ask any questions about it. They claim to be all about the teachers, but when the rubber meets the road, they are all about themselves. Teachers, why did not they fight for your step increase? You need it now and it needs to be retroactive.

When voting this year, either early or on November 3, please remember the three names: Rebecca HINES (Lexington), Catherine HUDDLE(Lexington), and Matt HOGAN (Richland). All three are forward-thinking visionaries who will do right by our teachers. They have gone on record as asking about why these increases could not be funded. They have also been very vocal about allowing teachers to have a voice in decision-making in our district, something that is sorely lacking at this time.

Smoke Matthews
Resident Lexington County