Saturday, November 18, 2017
Education

Hernando teachers, administrators remain far apart on pay issues

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BROOKSVILLE — In August, the Hernando County teachers union offered up a relatively simple proposal for the roughly $3.8 million allotted by the state for raises: a 5 percent increase for everyone.

On Wednesday evening, the school district came back with a response: Not so fast.

Noting that the district already paid $1.9 million in automatic step increases in September, the district's bargaining team said the additional 5 percent raise would cost the district about $4.3 million — greater than the total allotment.

The district countered with a proposal that would amount to a 4 percent increase for 2013-14, which would include the raises already distributed.

"We were expecting a lot more," said Jo Ann Hartge, president of the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association. "We're hoping that this is just the beginning."

The union believes Gov. Rick Scott intended to give this raise in addition to already-planned step increases. Heather Martin, the district's executive director of business services, disagreed, saying other districts have not done that.

"This was never intended to be on top of what you've already been given," she said.

Under the district's proposal, those in the bargaining unit would receive raises between $500 and $1,600 from the $3.8 million allocated by the state.

Including the step raises, the total bump would range from $500 to $3,150.

The district says 77 employees would get the low amount; 192 would get the highest amount.

Only 164 employees in the bargaining unit would get $1,000 or more from the governor's pot of cash, according to the proposal.

That's significantly different than what many educators expected.

Scott initially proposed a plan to give every classroom teacher in Florida a $2,500 raise, a measure that would cost the state $480 million.

Many people still think the state is giving $3,500 for those evaluated at "highly effective" and $2,500 for teachers deemed to be "effective," said Martin.

"The money does not stretch to give $2,500 and $3,500," she said. "It's not even close."

Negotiations will resume on Nov. 7.

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. Follow him on Twitter @HernandoTimes.

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