TAMPA — Teachers in Hillsborough County have a tentative pay deal for the current school year, subject to approval by the union and the school board.
The two sides reached the district’s stated goal of bringing starting salaries up to $40,000, which was considered a priority to keep up with neighboring districts.
But the breakthrough comes as controversy continues over Gov. Ron DeSantis’s proposal for a statewide starting teacher salary of $47,500. The legislature would have to hammer out the details and complications abound. Among them: Long-time teachers fear the new recruits will earn almost as much as those who have been on the job for decades, and there will not be enough money for raises at the top.
“We are happy to see the governor talk about compensation,” said Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, executive director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association. “But compensation should be bargained locally and done fairly so that it doesn’t harm our veteran teachers, who actually are committed to the classroom and staying there.”
In Hillsborough, negotiations took place in marathon sessions as the union reported that teachers felt micromanaged and “volun-told” to perform extra duties during their free and planning time. The district team promised to discuss these issues with principals and area superintendents.
The money deal now up for ratification raises starting salaries for the majority of teachers from $38,200, which is relatively unchanged since 2014; to $40,000. It remains $40,000 for the first three years of service, resembling the old pay plan that was initiated during the Gates Foundation-funded teaching reform years.
But the three-year bands go away after that, with salaries increasing by increments of $800, $1,000 or $2,200.
The top salary, which had been $66,200, is now $68,000.
Educational support personnel, a slightly smaller group that includes teaching assistants, will get a pay bump that works out to about 4 percent. While the teachers’ raises take effect on Oct. 6, the assistants’ raises are retro-active, going back to July 1.
The district noted that, as in prior years, it offers its employees a health insurance option with no zero premiums. In a newer development, the district also offers additional pay for teachers at its 50 highest-needs schools.