Hillsborough teachers ratify contract agreement
TAMPA -- Unionized teachers in Hillsborough County have overwhelmingly ratified a tentative contract agreement with the School Board, officials said today.
Some 82 percent of Hillsborough Classroom Teachers' Association members who voted on the contract supported it, while 18 percent opposed it, said executive director Nick Whitman. It was not immediately clear how many members took part in the vote.
Under the agreement, which must still be approved by the School Board, teachers would get no step increases on their negotiated salary scale this fall.
But they won't have to take unpaid leave to help balance the district's budget, either. The two sides agreed to revisit the district's proposal for furloughs in January, barring unforeseen emergencies.
For Whitman, who assumed his post Monday after the retirement of longtime director Yvonne Lyons, the ratification vote was a relief compared to the prospect of wading into tough negotiations in his first week on the job.
"When I see that large of a percentage, it tells me people must be generally satisfied," he said. "As an outsider coming in, it seems the members must have taken into account the economic environment, and (focused on) improving working conditions."
Teachers won five additional early-release days for planning purposes. And negotiators agreed to cancel school during the poorly attended week of Thanksgiving, adding missed days at other times of the year.
For additional details and updates, visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com or read tomorrow's St. Petersburg Times.
Tom Marshall, Times Staff Writer