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Battle Creek Public School teachers protest at Admin. building

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Battle Creek Public School teachers say they're fed up with being the lowest paid teachers in the area.

They aired their frustrations Friday, protesting in front of the administration building.

They say contract negotiations have gone nowhere, and the teacher's union says staff haven't had a pay raise in three of the last five years.

Now, district leaders are asking for another two years without a salary increase.

Teachers say that district leaders are blaming the dwindling student numbers for the lack of pay raise, but union leaders say the students won't stay if the teachers won't stay.

About 40 teachers held signs reading "No Teacher Left Behind," and "I love being a Bearcat, but I would be making $15,000 more as a Spartan."

Union leaders say the average teacher is making about $10,000 to $15,000 less than their counterpart doing the same work at the Lakeview School District.

Teachers at the demonstration say many of them are having a hard time making ends meet.

"It's difficult for a teacher to stay focused on all the kids we have here when so many of us have to work second jobs or put in so many extra hours so we can feed our own families," said English teacher William Lapham.

"It's really outrageous to me that while they're trying to get no pay raises, there are members of the administration who just got a 3 percent pay increase for this year," added English teacher Carrie Briggs. "They say there's no money for raises, yet they're taking raises."

Dr. Linda Hicks, Superintendent of Battle Creek Public Schools emailed a statement to Newschannel 3 that read in part:

"I understand the teachers' concerns and I am committed to working with them to find a solution that recognizes our need to be fiscally responsible while also acknowledging the value they bring to our District."

The Union President says they don't plan to go back to the bargaining table until the district has a new offer.