Governor's Office offers guidance on teacher raises in budget
At the same time Gov. Rick Scott prepared to sign Florida's 2014 budget, he delivered to school district superintendents some details on how to implement one of his top priorities in the budget -- raises for teachers.
In a lengthy Q&A document, the governor laid out that the raises are indeed salary increases and not one-time bonuses. The money must be used for raises and not other purposes, according to the guidelines, and the pay hikes "may" be based on performance.
School districts must send the state their plans for how they intend to allocate the funds, with the money to follow soon after -- as early as July if the district plan is submitted.
Read on for the full Q&A.
1. How are the funds to be distributed to teachers?
Funds are to be distributed through locally bargained and approved distribution plans.
2. Is this a one-time bonus or a salary increase?
The allocation is for salary increases and related benefits for FICA and FRS.
3. Are districts required to pay $2,500 to teachers rated as effective and $3,500 to teachers rated as highly effective?
No. Districts may collaborate with bargaining units to determine how salary increases are to be distributed.
4. May funds be used for something other than salary increases, such as building improvements or instructional programming?
No. The allocation is for salary increases and related benefits for FICA and FRS.
5. Are these funds required to be distributed based on performance?
Funds may be distributed based on performance. Districts may collaborate with bargaining units to determine how salary increases are distributed.
6. If the decision is made locally to distribute funds based on performance, what needs to be included in the performance evaluation?
This is to be locally determined. Districts may base salary increases on the performance measured for the 2012 - 2013 school year, plan to distribute based on performance in the 2013 - 2014 year, or distribute funds on another locally agreed upon performance system.
7. When are these funds to be allocated?
Districts will receive funds in the semi-monthly Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) payments as soon as their board-approved plans are submitted to the department. Payments could begin as early as July 2013 if the plans have been received.
8. Who is eligible to receive funds?
Proviso language lists, “classroom teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists, librarians, principals, and assistant principals,” as those eligible to receive funds from this allocation. Decisions made locally should address how, if at all, this allocation may affect employees not listed in proviso. Districts may collaborate with bargaining units to determine how salary increases are distributed.
9. Are charter school teachers eligible?
Yes. Charter schools were including in the calculation and are eligible to receive a portion of this allocation to provide salary increases.
10. Are virtual school teachers eligible?
Yes. Virtual school personnel who are employees of the district or charter school are eligible to receive a portion of this allocation to provide salary increases.
11. How will the state calculate the funding amount to be distributed to each district?
The allocation per district is reflected in the 2013-14 FEFP conference report and was proportionate to the district’s share of base funding.
12. Are districts required to spend more than their respective appropriated amount for salary increases should more funding be needed for each qualifying person to receive a salary increase?
No. However, if a district chooses to provide a salary increase that results in a greater amount than their district allocation, the district would be responsible for covering the additional costs.
13. Are these funds to be used to cover previously bargained salary increases, or is the increase considered to be in addition to what our district already plans to offer?
Funds are to be distributed for new salary increases as determined by collective bargaining agreement.
14. Can the salary increase be paid as a supplement (twice per fiscal year) or does it have to be distributed within the existing salary?
This is a salary increase to be included in the base salary as determined by collective bargaining agreement.
15. Is funding provided for future years?
The Governor and Legislature worked to provide recurring funds for this allocation.
16. What must the district provide to the state in order to receive funds?
In order to receive funds, the district must provide to the department a plan detailing how funds will be distributed to employees, including who is eligible, when funds will be distributed, the salary increase amounts, and evidence of any collective bargaining agreement that was completed. This “distribution plan” must be approved by the local school board.
If districts plan to distribute funds based on performance, the evaluation plan on which the distributions will be based must be submitted to the department. If it is determined locally to base salary increases on a performance metric other than an evaluation plan, the details of the metric(s) must be submitted. The local school board must approve the evaluation plan or the alternative metric(s) if applicable.
Note:The process by which plans for this allocation are submitted, etc., does not eliminate other submission and approval processes under current law or other agreements, such as Race to The Top.
17. What must be included in the distribution plan?
For information purposes, the distribution plan must include the following:
§ The classes/categories of personnel who are receiving compensation;
§ The criteria for earning the compensation, including whether the plan is based on performance demonstrated on the district’s 2012-13 or 2013-14 evaluation system. If the plan is based on a 2013-14 evaluation system, that system will have to be submitted to the department for approval prior to issuing the funds.
§ The timeframe for distributing the compensation to district employees.
§ Verification that any required negotiation has been completed and the school board has approved the plan.
18. What must be included in an evaluation system?
The district’s personnel evaluation system must continue to meet requirements of s. 1012.34, F.S., whether the system is linked to this compensation plan or not.
19. What is the process for submitting distribution plans?
Additional guidance for distribution plans will be available June 2013.
20. What is the process for submitting evaluation plans?
Evaluation plans submitted for this purpose are to follow the process currently in place.
If salary increases are to be based on an evaluation plan, the evaluation plan must be submitted with the distribution plan. If salary increases are not to be based on an evaluation plan, districts should follow the evaluation plan submission process currently in place. Additional guidance will be available June 2013.
21. What is the timeline for submitting distribution plans?
Districts may submit a distribution plan to the department beginning June 2013 and as soon as the plan is approved by the local school board.
The department will start the process of distributing funds from this allocation to districts once it has received the distribution plan and evaluation plan (if applicable).
22. Will the DOE approve plans?
For the purposes of this allocation, the department may not deny districts funds based on the plans submitted. However, the department will request that districts provide some specific information about their distribution plans so that the department can properly allocate funds and meet its legal obligations.
23. If my district is participating in Race to the Top, can this plan also be used as the district’s Race to the Top Compensation Plan, so that I don’t have to implement two separate plans?
A district can choose to have only one plan, provided the plan meets the requirements for this allocation and for Race to the Top (RTTT). The RTTT compensation plan for teachers and principals has two parts: performance compensation and differentiated pay. The RTTT Phase II MOU indicates that the performance portion of the plan must “tie the most significant gains in salary to effectiveness as demonstrated by annual evaluations.” The compensation plan a district uses for this appropriation can serve as the performance portion of a district’s RTTT compensation plan, provided the salary increases distributed to teachers and principals in the plan “tie the most significant gains in salary to effectiveness as demonstrated by annual evaluations.” This would not preclude salary increases distributed to other personnel, if that is what is agreed upon locally.
The second portion of the district’s RTTT compensation plan simply needs to demonstrate how the district implements differentiated pay as already required by law.
24. Does this allocation change the requirements for teacher evaluations?
No. Performance pay for teachers will still go into effect during the 2014-15 fiscal year.