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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesTEACHER PROTEST SHUTS DOWN SOME SCHOOLS

TEACHER PROTEST SHUTS DOWN SOME SCHOOLS

For the second day Monday, students at some public schools on St. Croix had to be sent home because of teachers protesting the fact they had not received their negotiated lump-sum payments.
The principal of John H. Woodson Junior High School, Von Hewitt, said students had to be sent home at about 9 a.m. on Friday and Monday because teachers either didn't show up for work or signed out early.
Similar problems occurred at Juanita Gardine Elementary School.
"Due to a large number of absent teachers and employees, we're forced to dismiss school early," he said.
The absent teachers were apparently expressing their anger over the Turnbull administration's inability to issue negotiated lump-sum payments to about 350 teachers throughout the territory. About 300 of those not receiving their payments are on St. Croix. Because the Department of Finance's payroll system doesn't allow two checks to be cut for the same employee in one pay period, many teachers won't see their lump-sum payments until some time this week instead of the promised payment on Jan. 25. According to a Government House release Thursday, a "special program" will have to be written to change Finance's Financial Management System.
The lump-sum payment was agreed to by members of the American Federation of Teachers on St. Croix and St. Thomas in December as part of a larger contract agreement following a three-week strike. Under the agreement, 80 percent of the territory's teachers would see, along with their regular Jan. 25 paychecks, a lump-sum payment. School employees with one to two years of experience were to be paid $1,500; those with three to four years' service would receive $1,750; and five years or more experience would lead to a $2,000 lump sum payment.
The payments are funded by the $2.4 million savings the government realized during the 18-day teachers strike. The wage agreement approved by union members in December was virtually the same as one rejected in October. But in the approved version, the government upped the amount of money provided to union members in exchange for forfeiting rights to negotiate salary increases for the five previous school years.

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For the second day Monday, students at some public schools on St. Croix had to be sent home because of teachers protesting the fact they had not received their negotiated lump-sum payments.
The principal of John H. Woodson Junior High School, Von Hewitt, said students had to be sent home at about 9 a.m. on Friday and Monday because teachers either didn't show up for work or signed out early.
Similar problems occurred at Juanita Gardine Elementary School.
"Due to a large number of absent teachers and employees, we're forced to dismiss school early," he said.
The absent teachers were apparently expressing their anger over the Turnbull administration's inability to issue negotiated lump-sum payments to about 350 teachers throughout the territory. About 300 of those not receiving their payments are on St. Croix. Because the Department of Finance's payroll system doesn't allow two checks to be cut for the same employee in one pay period, many teachers won't see their lump-sum payments until some time this week instead of the promised payment on Jan. 25. According to a Government House release Thursday, a "special program" will have to be written to change Finance's Financial Management System.
The lump-sum payment was agreed to by members of the American Federation of Teachers on St. Croix and St. Thomas in December as part of a larger contract agreement following a three-week strike. Under the agreement, 80 percent of the territory's teachers would see, along with their regular Jan. 25 paychecks, a lump-sum payment. School employees with one to two years of experience were to be paid $1,500; those with three to four years' service would receive $1,750; and five years or more experience would lead to a $2,000 lump sum payment.
The payments are funded by the $2.4 million savings the government realized during the 18-day teachers strike. The wage agreement approved by union members in December was virtually the same as one rejected in October. But in the approved version, the government upped the amount of money provided to union members in exchange for forfeiting rights to negotiate salary increases for the five previous school years.