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Folsom Cordova educators protest 'revolving door,' demand better pay, benefits

"As a special education teacher, you put in so many hours and hours," said Lori Wilkin.

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. — Educators who are molding the future for children are now in a fight locally for better wages. 

Hundreds protested at the Folsom Cordova Unified School (FCUSD) Board of Education meeting, drawing attention to what they're calling a 'revolving door.' The educators dressed in their red shirts, expressed their concerns and frustrations. 

Many of them say they just want to feel valued after putting in numerous hours of work every single day. 

"Tonight, let me demonstrate how a teacher like myself needs the salary ask you refuse to give us," said one educator addressing the board. 

In a packed room full of Folsom Cordova Unified School District educators, one after another gave an earful to their Board of Education. Each shared their own unique story. 

"As a special education teacher, you put in so many hours and hours," said Lori Wilkin, who is a Resource Specialist at Oak Chan Elementary School. 

For Lori Wilkin, having an autistic son makes her even more passionate about being a resource specialist. 

"I just want people to understand that the teachers in this district put forth so much of (themselves) into their jobs and how much we love it. That's why we do it," said Wilkin. 

But she says at times, they're having to work long hours and on weekends. Some say the number of educators leaving the district is concerning. 

"Like a lot of industries, there's a labor shortage. Certainly, we have lost some teachers to some things that we just don't have any control over. So for instance, some teachers have retired. Some teachers have moved out of state," said Angelica Griffin Ankhelyi, who is the Director of Communication and Community Engagement with FCUSD. 

The district says it's working to hire 21 classroom teachers. 

During that wait time, the Folsom Cordova Education Association is demanding better pay and benefits. 

"We're hoping for a fair compensation package that would entice teachers to come to our district and retain the teachers that we currently have. So that we're not losing them to other districts. I mean we have tremendous talent and we want to keep it here in-house," Angelica Miklos, president of the Folsom Cordova Education Association. 

Wilkin says they all want to stay, but they need to feel valued and compensated in some way. 

"It's kind of like when you're on that airplane, and they always tell you when you're with your child make sure you put your mask on first so you can help the child. Well us teachers, we need a mask. We need the appropriate kind of mask to be able to best assist all of our kids," said Wilkin.

The district says it absolutely wants to be competitive and make sure its teachers are satisfied. 

Griffin Ankhelyi also says their Human Resources team and the bargaining groups meet on a regular weekly basis, and through conversations, they talk about resolutions that work for everyone. 

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