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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pinellas could bump up starting teacher salary to $40,000



With salary negotiations winding to a close, it looks like the starting teacher salary in Pinellas County Schools could soon be among the most competitive in the Tampa Bay area.

A proposed salary schedule for the 2013/14 school year has a first-year teacher making $40,000 a year. Under the proposal, all teachers would see a 5.6 percent pay raise, on average. Some would get more, some a little less.

Teachers in Hillsborough County make about $37,569 in their first year (with a bachelor's degree), while teachers in Pasco earn $36,420 and teachers in Hernando make $35,000. Pasco has a tentative agreement bumping their teachers up to $37,000.

The school district already has reached a tentative agreement with the Florida Public Services Union/SEIU. About 2,500 people in transportation, food services, maintenance and plant operations will receive a 5.5 percent raise on average. The teachers union and the school district met Wednesday for negotiations; both sides expect to conclude next week.

The Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association is expected to meet Tuesday. 

Superintendent Mike Grego said he wanted to see a bump in starting teacher salaries. Under the current schedule, which includes referendum dollars, it takes a starting teacher about 10 years to reach $40,000 a year. (That's at Level 1 on the schedule, which doesn't include advanced degrees.)

Under the proposed schedule, a first-year teacher would start at $40,000, earning that exact amount until their eighth year when it would go up $360. Teachers could earn $42,000 by their 12th year instead of waiting until year 16.

Bruce Proud, executive director of the teachers union, said union officials wanted to decrease the reliance on the referendum, which has been propping up the salary schedule during the recession. 

"This is a step in that direction," he said. 

Each teacher received $2,852 in referendum dollars last year, which is included in the salary schedule. With an increase in property values, that amount has gone up about $70 this year. The union would like to see the referendum dollars be more of a bonus to teachers, rather than keeping salaries on par with neighboring districts.

The proposed salary schedule also provides young teachers with more money earlier on - something that could help with recruiting and retaining good teachers.

Proud said he does anticipate concerns from teachers who took 10 years to reach $40,000 and also from teachers at the top of the salary schedule, where the change isn't as significant.

The two sides still must reach a tentative agreement. That agreement then is subject to a vote by the School Board and union ratification.

[Last modified: Friday, August 30, 2013 3:50pm]


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