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Monday, August 15, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesTEACHER SICKOUTS CONTINUE TO PLAGUE ST. CROIX

TEACHER SICKOUTS CONTINUE TO PLAGUE ST. CROIX

The teacher sickouts that have plagued St. Croix’s public schools for the past week hit five more schools on Monday, including Central High School and the Educational Complex.
According to Terrence Joseph, St. Croix superintendent of schools, more than 4,000 students were sent home Monday morning after only 20 percent of the more than 300 teachers and 200 support staff reported to work at the island’s two high schools and at Juanita Gardine and Eulalie Rivera Elementary Schools. Also affected was the Positive Connections Alternative Education Center.
Education officals did not say whether the missed instruction days would be made up at the end of the year or not.
The sickouts are being staged in response to Gov. Charles Turnbull’s plans to cut government by 15 percent in order to balance the fiscal year 2000 budget and to protest government raises amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars to executive branch employees since January.
Monday’s sickout follows similar actions by 46 teachers at Pearl B. Larsen Elementary on Thursday and some 150 teachers and support staff at Arthur A. Richards and Elena Christian Junior High Schools on Friday. More than 1,400 students were affected by the sickouts at those schools.
"It is unfortunate that our students are caught in the middle of this job action, resulting in the disruption of their instructional process," Joseph said.
But Cecil Benjamin, president of the St. Croix chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said the sickouts are just that, and not union-sanctioned job actions. He said the pressures of working in poor conditions, pending budget cuts in education, and the unsettled issue of million of dollars in retroactive wages were taking their toll on teachers.
"They are sick. People have a right to do what they can do," Benjamin said."This is not the union, it’s strictly an individual thing."
The sickouts on St. Croix followed an AFT protest on St. Thomas last Wednesday that resulted in some 90 percent of teachers in the St. Thomas-St. John district not reporting to work. As a result of that union job action, a Territorial Court judge last week ordered St. Thomas-St. John district teachers back to work and union officials to court later this week.
On Monday, Joseph said Education officials were consulting with their lawyers in regard to collective bargaining agreements.
Meanwhile, V.I. Attorney General Iver Stridiron said his office believes that teachers do have legitimate complaints concerning school conditions and retro wages. But he said the sickouts won’t cure those ills.
"If there are no dollars in the pot . . . and if you demonstrate or not, it’s not going to do that much," Stridiron said. "We don’t feel leaving class is the way to go."
Joseph said that the schools that suffered sickouts last week resumed their regular schedules the following day. Because of that, he said the students affected by Monday’s sickout should be ready for classes on Tuesday.
"I’m assuming schools with sickouts (Monday) will have classes tomorrow," he said.

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The teacher sickouts that have plagued St. Croix’s public schools for the past week hit five more schools on Monday, including Central High School and the Educational Complex.
According to Terrence Joseph, St. Croix superintendent of schools, more than 4,000 students were sent home Monday morning after only 20 percent of the more than 300 teachers and 200 support staff reported to work at the island’s two high schools and at Juanita Gardine and Eulalie Rivera Elementary Schools. Also affected was the Positive Connections Alternative Education Center.
Education officals did not say whether the missed instruction days would be made up at the end of the year or not.
The sickouts are being staged in response to Gov. Charles Turnbull’s plans to cut government by 15 percent in order to balance the fiscal year 2000 budget and to protest government raises amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars to executive branch employees since January.
Monday’s sickout follows similar actions by 46 teachers at Pearl B. Larsen Elementary on Thursday and some 150 teachers and support staff at Arthur A. Richards and Elena Christian Junior High Schools on Friday. More than 1,400 students were affected by the sickouts at those schools.
"It is unfortunate that our students are caught in the middle of this job action, resulting in the disruption of their instructional process," Joseph said.
But Cecil Benjamin, president of the St. Croix chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said the sickouts are just that, and not union-sanctioned job actions. He said the pressures of working in poor conditions, pending budget cuts in education, and the unsettled issue of million of dollars in retroactive wages were taking their toll on teachers.
"They are sick. People have a right to do what they can do," Benjamin said."This is not the union, it’s strictly an individual thing."
The sickouts on St. Croix followed an AFT protest on St. Thomas last Wednesday that resulted in some 90 percent of teachers in the St. Thomas-St. John district not reporting to work. As a result of that union job action, a Territorial Court judge last week ordered St. Thomas-St. John district teachers back to work and union officials to court later this week.
On Monday, Joseph said Education officials were consulting with their lawyers in regard to collective bargaining agreements.
Meanwhile, V.I. Attorney General Iver Stridiron said his office believes that teachers do have legitimate complaints concerning school conditions and retro wages. But he said the sickouts won’t cure those ills.
"If there are no dollars in the pot . . . and if you demonstrate or not, it’s not going to do that much," Stridiron said. "We don’t feel leaving class is the way to go."
Joseph said that the schools that suffered sickouts last week resumed their regular schedules the following day. Because of that, he said the students affected by Monday’s sickout should be ready for classes on Tuesday.
"I’m assuming schools with sickouts (Monday) will have classes tomorrow," he said.