Broward County teachers put spotlight on ‘wasteful spending’ amid wage woes

Teachers say new laptops, drones have gone unused

Teachers report wasteful spending in Broward public schools
Teachers report wasteful spending in Broward public schools

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – The Broward Teachers Union presented example after example Thursday of what they call wasteful budget items.

The BTU says there's plenty of money in the upcoming budget to give teachers a raise, but not everyone is seeing those savings.

Hundreds of Broward County teachers are speaking out about the issue.

“There is a lot of waste in our county,” Ramblewood Middle School teacher John Falkowski said.

“The technology that’s bought and thrown out or put in back rooms,” Hollywood Hills Elementary School teacher Melissa Negri said.

The frustrations among educators were outlined in a survey that was compiled over the past two weeks by roughly 1,000 anonymous teachers who see ongoing waste firsthand.

Among the gripes are “buying curriculum material we don’t use,” and “drones purchased but never programmed or unboxed. Newer laptops sitting there without being used.”

“We’re doing this because we want things better. We are not doing this because we want to give a poke or an ‘I got you.’ We’re saying, ‘Listen to us,’” BTU President Anna Fusco said.

Last week, teachers hit the street to protest.

They’ve also been pushing for a 5 percent pay raise, but negotiations with the district have hit an impasse.

On Thursday, those same teachers said they feel the money can easily be redirected from the so-called wasteful spending.

“I have a daughter who works at Universal Studios. Her raise last year was over $2,000. Mine was $580,” Pembroke Pines Middle School teacher Anne Skurnick said. “Her raise this year is already over $4,000. I haven’t gotten one yet. She doesn’t have a degree. I do.”

The report also highlights ballooning electric bills from classes being kept too cold, unwanted cafeteria food handed to and tossed out by students, a bevy of unused books when new ones are being purchased and overpaying for ongoing and incomplete school projects.

“The challenge is the facilities that are the most complex and need the greatest work are gonna take longer, but I can tell you there is an absolute commitment to make sure we have equity across this system,” Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.

“You know who’s suffering? Our students and parents and our educators,” Fusco said.

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