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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Hillsborough teachers want more money. The talks continue

The Hillsborough teachers union wants the district to procede with a three-phase plan to raise support workers' pay.

The Hillsborough teachers union wants the district to procede with a three-phase plan to raise support workers' pay.



Back at the bargaining table, the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association is again asking for higher pay for 20,000 employees, including more than 14,000 teachers.

Those teachers, who by now have nearly all transitioned into the pay plan worked out during the Gates teaching reform years, get raises every three years if their evaluation scores are high enough, which is almost always the case. The union wants to add $1,500 to each of these salary amounts, which works out to more than $7.5 million.

And that's not all: The union wants the district to pay extra if a teacher has an advanced degree -- $3,000 for a Masters. $4,300 for a Secondary Education Degree and $5,800 for a Doctoral degree. That practice went away with the Gates reforms, under the theory that teachers should be rewarded on their performance instead. But the union is disappointed that it did not get bonuses it wanted for psychologists, social workers and other members who are required to have graduate degrees to do the job.

There's also another attempt to boost teacher aides' wages, which now begin at $9.68 an hour. That's better than the $9.12 they used to earn. The union wants the district to move ahead with a three-phase plan that eventually would pay between $10.77 and $49.70.  "We're trying to give everyone a good, living wage so they can support a salary," said executive director Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins.

The bid for higher teacher pay takes into account competition from Polk, Pasco and Pinellas counties, which all offer higher starting wages, Baxter-Jenkins said. The district, in concluding the Gates experiment, has created training and mentoring systems to help new teachers and cut down on turnover. But Baxter-Jenkins argued that a young professional with college loans to pay is more likely to be motivated by money. Looking around at the other counties, the job candidate might think, "they're offering me $2,000 more in a county that's cheaper to live in."

There was no immediate response from the district negotiators when the session broke for lunch on Thursday. Gradebook will report the response when it is available.

The union made similar requests last year, in a negotiating process that dragged on until the winter holidays. They wound up with modest raises for the support employees, in the form of bonuses instead of pay retroactive to July 1, the start of the budget year. Teachers were able to advance a year, meaning a third of them got regularly scheduled raises, and those who were eligible got their performance bonuses. The teachers' raises were retroactive. This year, Baxter-Jenkins said, she wants all raises to be retroactive.

[Last modified: Thursday, June 30, 2016 3:43pm]


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