Group of local teachers stretched thin on three weeks without pay

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — While many employees are used to getting paychecks every two weeks, a local group of teachers is waiting three weeks this month.

Teachers who opt for “optional pay” get money withheld from their checks throughout the school year. It’s then dispersed throughout the summer.

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“So it’s kind of like a district savings account that they redistribute the money we’ve already earned,” explained Chris Guerrieri, a veteran DCPS teacher of 22 years.

He said teachers in this group normally get the first summer paycheck two weeks after the last normal check. However, this year employees are waiting for three weeks. They were last paid June 3, and get their optional paycheck June 24.

“Personally I’ve had to dip into savings to pay some bills. I know teachers who had to borrow money from their families,” he told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant.

In 2020, employees got their last paycheck of the school year on June 5 and optional pay two weeks later on June 19. In 2021, the last regular pay came on June 4 and optional pay just more than two weeks later on June 21.

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“I had no idea — like I said, up until last year it was always within two weeks,” Guerrieri said.

The district and teachers’ union said they sent out several emails and have the pay calendar posted online all year. The president of Duval Teachers United said it’s decided based on the length of the school year. The 2021-22 year ended early.

Guerrieri emailed Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene about the issue. She responded in part, “Thank you for sharing the feedback...We will use it to ensure there is added visibility of the annual schedule.”

Dr. Greene reminded teachers it’s their choice to opt into the optional pay schedule.

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