Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando gives teachers 2 percent raise

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County teachers on Tuesday got something almost unheard-of in Florida this year: a raise.

The School Board voted 5-0 to ratify a contract Tuesday night that would give teachers a 2.39 percent average pay increase for the current year, plus 1.5 percent more to cover health care increases. Non-teaching staff will see comparable raises of 2.37 percent along with the health care boost.

All five board members had said they support the raise, despite the looming fiscal storm clouds.

"To get an increase in your salary at all is quite amazing," said superintendent Wayne Alexander, estimating it as one of the largest raises in all of Florida's 67 counties.

At last count, just 18 of those counties have approved raises, said Joe Vitalo, president of the Hernando Classroom Teachers' Union. Hillsborough County has managed a 2 percent raise for teachers, but Pasco is at an impasse and Pinellas is still in negotiations.

How did Hernando do it?

By dipping deep into its reserves, among other things. Under the new budget, just 1.2 percent of its general fund will be set aside for emergencies. That's a far cry from the 2.7 percent in the fund last year, or the 2.5 percent the state recommends.

But Alexander said he can't abide squirreling away money that could be used to help the district attract and retain teachers.

"As a board, we spend what we have to improve education," he said. "It makes me nervous, but historically this board has never had a large fund balance."

The district has been told to expect up to 4 percent in state cuts over the next three months, said finance director Deborah Bruggink. Anything steeper than that would require program cuts or layoffs.

But the declining economy means it might be even harder to manage raises next year, so now's the time to do it if there's money, said newly elected board member James Yant.

And officials saw it as a chance to close the distance between Hernando and higher paying districts to the south. Under the new deal, a beginning teacher will earn $35,000 in the county, up from just $30,000 in 2006.

Last spring the board settled on a 5.5 percent raise for Alexander, after haggling over his initial request of a 14 percent pay boost.

A record 71 percent of eligible teachers turned out to vote on the contract last week, and 91 percent voted to ratify it, Vitalo said.

"They do understand that we're still going to be behind (other districts)," he added. "But they understand what the climate is like, they understand the difficulties. They realize we can't close the gap all in one shot."

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1431.

Hernando gives teachers 2 percent raise 12/09/08 [Last modified: Sunday, December 14, 2008 1:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Odessa teacher arrested on theft charges after deputies say she stole from fellow teacher

    Crime

    A Odessa elementary school teacher is facing theft charges after Hillsborough County deputies said she swiped money and a credit card from another teacher on the playground.

    Sylvia Clark, 58, a teacher at Hammond Elementary School in Odessa, faces charges after Hillsborough County deputies say she took money from a fellow teacher and used a stolen credit card. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. For starters: Rays vs. Cubs, trying to get even with Joe Maddon

    Blogs

    After a tough 2-1 loss on Tuesday, the Rays take on the Cubs again tonight, looking to split the two-game series with former manager Joe Maddon.

    The Rays are starting young LHP Blake Snell, and the Cubs are starting veteran LHP Jon Lester.

    Here is the Rays lineup:

    Kiermaier cf,

  3. Mexicans dig through collapsed buildings as quake kills 225 (w/video)

    World

    MEXICO CITY — Rescuers found a surviving child on Wednesday in the ruins of a school that collapsed in Mexico's magnitude 7.1 earthquake, one of many efforts across the city to try to save people trapped in debris under schools, homes and businesses toppled by the quake that killed at least 225 people.

    A man is rescued from a collapsed building in the Condesa neighborhood after an earthquake struck Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. The 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico, killing more than 100 people. [Associated Press]
  4. Hurricane Maria tears off roofs, triggers flooding in Puerto Rico

    Hurricanes

    we

    [National Hurricane Center]
  5. Construction starts on USF medical school, the first piece of Tampa's Water Street project

    Health

    TAMPA — Dozens of workers in hard hats and boots were busy at work at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive Wednesday morning, signaling the start of construction on the University of South Florida's new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.

    A rendering shows what the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute will look like when completed in 2019. Local officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate as construction begins on the facility, the first piece of the Water Street redevelopment area in downtown Tampa. [Rendering courtesy of the USF Health]