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Teachers union negotiating over raises

Published:   |   Updated: November 24, 2013 at 02:00 PM

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BROOKSVILLE - Hernando teachers are currently negotiating with the school board to receive their portion of $480 million in raises allocated by Gov. Rick Scott during the 2013 legislative session.

Hernando Classroom Teachers Association President Jo Ann Hartge said the school board recently presented four collective bargaining options, three of which the association rejected.

The option the association accepted for further negotiation and consideration offered to provide a full $5.5 million in increases for all bargaining members' salaries, or a salary increase of 6.5 percent with an additional increase provided prior to winter break, according to a draft of the proposals.

While that was the most appealing option, Hartge said, the drawback is association members would have to remove automatic step increases from their contract.

Some of the proposal's language will need to be tweaked before the association considers approval, she said.

"We're going to be looking at that to see if we can find somewhere agreeable to both," Hartge said. "Many applied to the salary scale itself, but the caveat is we have to give up automatic step (increases), and we're not ready to give up automatic step."

The cost of automatic step increases for this school year totals $1,805,551.

That option, as initially presented with contract removal of step increases, would add between $1,000 and $2,100 to salary schedules depending on one's position and number of years with the district.

The options rejected by Hernando Classroom Teachers Association include a proposal that would have reduced the salary amounts of select members, including performance pay, with greater salary increases applied to the gap between those in the $52,200 and $55,850 salary range.

Another option rejected was a proposal that would have applied the raises toward a performance plan mandated for 2014-15 and set the stage for what that plan will look like.

And the last proposal rejected would have provided non-conforming salary increases in June 2014, including benefits, for school district and charter classroom teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists, librarians, principals and assistant principals.

That option, for the 2014-15 school year, would have provided at least $2,500 for members determined "effective" and up to $3,500 for those determined "highly effective" by state and board-approved assessment systems scores like SAT, ACT, FCAT and end-of-course assessments.

So far, school boards in 37 of Florida's 67 school districts have approved the raises.

This includes counties surrounding Hernando: Citrus, Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough, according to Florida Department of Education.

(352) 544-5271

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