Pay bump and ESE changes are proposed in Hillsborough
Qualifying teachers in Hillsborough County will see a pay raise of about four percent, subject to a contract that must be adopted by the School Board and workers represented by the union.
And, in a positive development for exceptional student education, there will be three tiers of classroom assistants, with different starting wages, instead of one.
Pay for ESE workers was identified in a school district survey last year as problematic, with wages beginning at $8.42 an hour, often in temporary jobs without benefits. An analysis in 2012 by the Tampa Bay Times showed the average yearly earnings in Hillsborough lagged behind many other Florida districts at $14,277.
Under the proposed contract, all aides and attendents would be called paraprofessionals.
Those with little training or education, previously called attendants, would remain at the same pay grade.
Aides considered "highly qualified" under federal criteria would be two pay grades higher, a wage now listed at $9.27.
Another, higher level is being created for those with associates degrees.
Teachers, meanwhile, will each advance two level steps in pay if they are eligible according to their job performance. That works out to a raise of approximately 4 percent, according to union executive director Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins. Payment is retroactive to July 1.
Provisions are being made for aides and teachers who are at the top of the scale, with extra steps and bonuses.
Separately, the district is going through a transition under the Gates-funded Empowering Effective Teachers, a reform effort designed to reward job performance as opposed to the traditional system, which raised pay based on years of service.
The new contract seeks to do both. Longtime teachers will choose which system they use, while those hired after the 2010-2011 school year automatically move to the new one.
This year's negotiations also required the two sides to satisfy a state law that increases teacher salaries.
Gov. Rick Scott initially billed the move as a $2,500 raise for teachers. But funding from the state was not enough to cover the more than 19,000 employees represented by the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, and districts were allowed to set the raises through collective bargaining.
As information is distributed, the union will take questions and post documents on its website.
The ratification process is expected to last from Sept. 27 to Oct. 17. The Hillsborough County School Board will also vote on the agreement.