Sheriff Deputies called to heated school board meeting at Waverly High School

Posted at 9:44 AM, Jan 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-24 11:43:22-05

The Waverly School Board meeting got very heated Monday night with board members walking off stage and Eaton County Sheriff Deputies called to the school.

The district's teachers are still working without a contract and many parents and community members showed up at a board meeting at the high school Monday night to demand answers. Before the meeting began at 6:30 in the auditorium of the high school, parents rallied with Waverly teachers outside the school, holding up signs to inform the community that the teachers did not have a contract. Sticking points include salary, benefits and class size.

The meeting included public comment and parents and residents came prepared with speeches. One resident told board members the community has supported the district with three bonds to help relieve the general fund and demanded to know where the money is for the teachers.

Teacher Calvin McGill took to the stage and told the audience he isn't paid enough. McGill says, "I bring home $960 every two weeks, that is $480 bucks a week. I work 50-55 hours a week, preparing lessons, lesson plans and grading papers." Superintendent Terry Urquhart told WILX after the meeting, "Our teachers are the highest paid, have been the highest paid, but we don't have any problems paying them at that level. We just want to make sure that we get a return on our investment." Teacher Kristin Kochheiser says "We want to be compensated fairly, we're not in it for the money, but we do have our own families and we do need to provide for them."

Teachers also say ideally they would like 20 to 24 students in a classroom. They say currently there are between 28 to 30 in a classroom. The district says there are about 22 students in each class. Teachers like Nick Niederquell say they just want to be valued. Niederquell says, I want to be valued as an employee, I want to be valued as a person, I want to be valued for what I do in the classroom."

School board members listened to the speeches but as the night progressed and more people walked up to the stage, the board informed the audience it would not allow anyone else to speak and it would go into a closed session. People who came prepared with speeches continued to try and address the board, and that is when board members abruptly got up and walked off the stage to the boos of the crowd. Eaton County Sheriff deputies were called up to the school. Angry parents say it was the board who called authorities. The board has not confirmed who called Eaton County Deputies.

Many parents took to social media vowing the fight for teachers isn't over. Parents say they don't feel like they are respected by the Waverly school board or the superintendent. One community resident shouted to the crowd, "we need to remember to go to the polls and vote every one of them out."

Superintendent Urquhart told FOX 47 News, "It was action packed. Lot of frustration on the teachers' part, we heard what they had to say and we're going to listen to them." He says, "We've had actually a couple good meetings, but you wouldn't know that from tonight's meeting."

Urquhart says the district is waiting on fact-finding information that should be finished by the middle of February. He says negotiations will resume once its finished.

Teachers like Kochheiser say no matter what they will be at school. She says "regardless of whether we have a contract or not, we are going to put 110% into these kids every single day." FOX 47 will continue to follow the negotiations.