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Hernando teachers, district officials remain at odds over raise dollars from state

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School District and teachers union continued negotiations this week over how to distribute roughly $3.8 million in raise money from the state, but the two sides remain fairly far apart.

At Thursday's meeting, the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association proposed a 4 percent raise on top of automatic step increases — an amount that would equal roughly $1,800 for each of the district's 1,655 teachers.

Non-instructional employees and administrators would not be included.

"The governor's intent was to increase the base pay of a teacher's salary," said Springstead High teacher John Imhof, who is a member of the bargaining team. "He made that very clear in every speech he gave."

In August, the teachers union proposed a 5 percent across-the-board raise in addition to the $1.9 million set aside by the district for step increases.

Noting that the union's proposal would cost $4.3 million, the district's negotiating team countered with a proposal amounting to a 4 percent raise for 2013, including the step raises.

That offer didn't fly with the teachers.

"They felt as if they were being slighted," Imhof said. "They did not feel it was a respectful offer."

The union believes Gov. Rick Scott intended the raise money to be in addition to already-planned step increases. Heather Martin, the district's executive director of business services, disagreed. She said that could put the district in a financial bind in future years.

Looking to other districts doesn't clear things up much, Imhof said.

Some are distributing the money as equal shares, while others are doing it by seniority. Some are giving it as a bonus; others use it to cover part of step raises.

"There is no rule of thumb. There's not even a thumb," Imhof said. "Every district is doing what fits their best needs."

Contact Danny Valentine at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes.

Hernando teachers, district officials remain at odds over raise dollars from state 11/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 8, 2013 10:06pm]

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