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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Hernando teachers' union proposes 'performance pay' for all



BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County teachers have long received raises from year to year based on experience level.

It’s simple: Survive another year in the school district, jump a step on the salary schedule.

But that could soon fundamentally change for all teachers in the district.

The Hernando Classroom Teachers Association on Monday proposed eliminating these experience-based raises for ones based on performance on annual teacher evaluations, a move they say conforms with changing state statue.

“It gives us — both sides — the options to maintain fiscal responsibility, projected cost,” said John Imhof, a Springstead High history teacher and member of the union’s bargaining team.

He said he feels this proposal is a “best fit” for the county.

The proposal is a surprising one for a teachers union, which have traditionally been incredibly reluctant to tie performance to pay, citing the inability to properly evaluate teachers, a lack of funding and constituents evaluations.

The measure also goes farther than some other districts by placing all teachers on the same performance schedule and eliminating the traditional schedule, known as a “grandfather schedule.”

Under the proposal, beginning in the 2014 2015 fiscal year, all teachers would be placed on a single schedule and raises would be determined by state evaluation scores — “highly effective,” “effective,” “needs improvement,” “developing” and “unsatisfactory.” The better the score, the higher the raise.

While the exact amount would be subject to annual negotiation, the proposal given to the district on Monday would give highly effective teachers a $1,200 raise and effective teachers a $900 raise. No other evaluation scores would merit a pay bump.

“The only way you can move through it is either with an ‘effective’ or ‘highly effective’,” said Sandra Armstrong, executive director of the Florida Education Association’s United Service Unit.

Both Imhof and Armstrong say they feel the proposal would give teachers a greater earning potential.

Unlike the current salary schedule, Imhof said this one will allow continued movement with no cap after a certain number of years.

“I think that’s the big carrot for the bargaining members,” he said.

Said Armstrong: “This doesn’t prohibit them from continuing to earn increases ...”

The proposal, which is still in its infancy, received a positive review from the district after a brief discussion.

Heather Martin, the school district’s executive director of business services, called it a “very interesting proposal,” and said the district will examine it look into it more to ensure that it complies with the law. She also feels it is in line with the spirit of the district’s past offers.

“It’s a very good proposal,” she said.

The proposal served as a major step in the right direction in the ongoing negotiations over how to distributed roughly $3.8 million in raises from the state. Until Monday, little progress had been made.

The union wanted to settle the raise money before addressing any other issues with the salary schedule. The district said that permanently putting that much into the salary schedule was fiscally irresponsible.

The union’s proposal for teachers includes raises ranging from $2,000 to $2,550 for the 2013-14 school year. Non-instructional employees and administrators would not be included.

[Last modified: Friday, January 31, 2014 12:10pm]


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