Teachers in the Pontiac district could face a payless payday

Teachers in the Pontiac district could face a payless payday

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Teacher Pamela St. Onge expresses her thoughts at Friday night's school board meeting. Teacher Pamela St. Onge expresses her thoughts at Friday night's school board meeting.
PONTIAC, Mich. (WJBK) -

Teachers are furious, and they want everyone to know it.  It turns out their school system is broke, and they may not get paid.

A room was packed with emotion and sharp barbs.  Strapped for cash, the Pontiac school system is plunging deeper into debt, and now the Pontiac School Board is advising teachers they may be facing a payless payday.

Teachers responded by blasting the board.

"Something is wrong with this picture," said teacher Jessie Stephens.

"I'm sick, and I'm sorry, I like you guys.  I know a lot of you on a personal level, but evidently you don't get it.  I go in there every day.  The classrooms are 88 degrees.  The heat's unbearable.  But you know what?  My children come every day to me to learn.  I love my students," said teacher Pamela St. Onge.

Parents also attended the school board meeting and pointed out issues they say must be addressed.

"I talk to my children.  They say the teachers are doing their jobs and some of those sub teachers are not.  Don't even know math.  You don't put [a] sub teacher in math that don't know math," said parent Joyce Carthon.

The school board announced that they presented a deficit elimination plan to the state, and now Lansing will decide within five days if state aid payment will be passed along to Pontiac, which would allow the teachers to be paid.

However, the board also warned the school system continues to hemorrhage and lose money.

"For two weeks, we paid $86,000 in substitute pay," said school board President Caroll Turpin.  "That's over a million dollars a year.  So let's see can we come up with something to encourage our teachers to stay in the classroom."

If payless paydays are not enough, there has been another bombshell.  Superintendent Brian Dougherty announced this week he is resigning effective May 17.  The reason for his resignation was not announced at the meeting.

The teachers and teachers' union supported Dougherty.  They say classroom overcrowding is a major problem that must be addressed.

"How are we supposed to teach with 44 kids in the classroom in the elementary and nearly 50 in high school?" said teacher Aimee McKeever.

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