Saturday, November 25, 2017
Education

Proposed Hillsborough deal calls for higher teacher pay

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TAMPA — Qualifying Hillsborough County teachers will see pay raises of about 4 percent, subject to approval of a contract by the School Board and employees represented by the union.

And, in a development for exceptional student education, there will be three tiers of classroom assistants with different starting wages — instead of one.

Pay for ESE employees was identified last year in a school district survey as problematic, with wages beginning at $8.42 an hour, often for temporary jobs without benefits. A 2012 analysis by the Tampa Bay Times showed that the average yearly earnings in Hillsborough for those workers lagged behind those in many other Florida districts at $14,277.

Under the proposed contract, all aides and attendants 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, an hourly wage now listed at $9.27.

Another higher level is being created for those with associate degrees.

Teachers will each advance two steps in pay if they are eligible, according to their job performance and date of hire. That works out to a raise of approximately 4 percent, according to union executive director Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins.

The pay is retroactive to July 1.

Separately, the district is going through a transition under the Empowering Effective Teachers program, a reform effort funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation designed to reward job performance, as opposed to the traditional system that raised pay based on years of service.

The new, annual 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 based on the Gates reform effort.

This year's negotiations required that the sides satisfy a state law to increase 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 School Board will also vote on the agreement.

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