Sarasota School District, Teachers Union Reach Interim Wage Deal

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The Sarasota Classified / Teachers Association and the Sarasota County School District have reached a tentative agreement on a contract for school employees.

The employment contract, which must be ratified in a vote by the district’s approximately 5,200 employees, covers the 2021-22 school year. School districts statewide typically finalize employee contracts mid-year because districts don’t have precise funding figures before the school year begins.

Previously: Sarasota teachers want a raise. School district offers a bonus of $ 2,500 instead

Following: Teachers and district reach salary agreement

The proposed contract includes the following provisions:

  • The minimum salary for teachers is now $ 50,000, an increase from $ 47,500.
  • All teachers will receive a 5.25% salary increase on their 2021-2022 salary, in addition to a 0.5% increase already received on July 1.
  • Non-teaching employees will receive a salary increase of $ 2 per hour.
  • The district is reintroducing a supplement of $ 7,500 for teachers with a master’s degree plus 45 credit hours and a supplement of $ 2,500 for teachers with a bachelor’s degree plus 30 credit hours. The additional credit hours must be related to the subject they teach or to education in general. (Under the current system, master’s graduates receive a supplement of $ 5,000 and there is no additional compensation for educators with a bachelor’s degree.)

Talks had been underway for several months and SC / TA executive director Barry Dubin appealed last week for staff to picket outside the school board at an upcoming board meeting in January. But shortly before the district closed for winter vacation, school officials announced they had reached a tentative contractual agreement.

“I appreciate the collaboration of the SC / TA in reaching an agreement that recognizes the hard work of teachers and support staff during such a difficult and stressful year,” Superintendent Brennan Asplen said in a press release. announcing the provisional settlement.

“We hope this announcement will allow our employees to rest and focus on their family and friends during this well-deserved winter break,” said Asplen.

Picket the table

Dubin said union officials were not happy with the district’s proposal to offer lump sum increases in dollars rather than percentages, which would mean senior employees earning higher wages would get lower percentage increases than those new employees.

Dubin said once the district agreed to percentage increases, the threat of picketing was no longer on the agenda. He joked that the only possible picket line would be with “signs that say, ‘We love our school board’.

Sarasota, like most districts, has two salary scales for teachers: about 60% of teachers are on the “performance pay scale,” where the teachers’ salary increase is typically tied to their annual appraisal. This merit-based pay system, which state lawmakers put in place in 2011, is designed to give teachers with the highest annual grades higher salary increases.

The remaining 40% of teachers in the district follow what is known as the “grandfathers schedule”. These teachers chose to stay on the old district salary scale in exchange for tenure. This means they don’t have an annual contract and can only be fired for cause, but in theory they’re not eligible for performance-based increases.

State law requires school districts to grant teachers who are rated “highly effective” 25% more annual increase than their peers.

This law is particularly unpopular with older teachers who have chosen to stay on the grandfather’s salary scale in exchange for tenure, as they are automatically ineligible for the salary increase.

The principle contract does not make a distinction between salaried performance teachers and grandfather’s salaried teachers. He gets around this by making the salary increase a “supplement” and not an “adjustment” to the salary grid.

A supplement will be negotiated next year, although the salary plus the amount of the supplement is the status quo before negotiations, Dubin said. The extra pay also counts towards teachers’ retirement payments, which are based on a percentage of their average five best paid years in the system.

School board member Shirley Brown said she was worried about giving the pay rise as a “top-up” rather than a change in the salary scale because “it just kicks things off. whip in the future ”.

“What worries me is next year. If you take the supplement away, it’s like giving them a pay cut, ”she said.

Brown said most of the teachers on the bargaining committee are on the grandfather’s pay scale, and that’s why there is such resistance to offering higher pay increases to teachers on the pay scale. performance. She said grandfathered teachers tend to fear losing tenure, but in this environment, with massive teacher shortages, they shouldn’t be so worried.

Dubin said one of the details they were still working out was what to do with teachers who receive less than effective assessments (in need of improvement or unsatisfactory), specifically determining whether those teachers receive the same salary increases as their peers.

Dubin hopes the two sides will finalize any small issues remaining in the contract and that they can have the final language revised by employees in time for a vote by mid-February.

If the employees approve the contract, it is subject to final approval by the school board. Brown said she was optimistic. Asplen had the support of the board of directors.

If the contract is approved, staff will receive the amount of the salary increase they would have received from July 1 to the date of ratification in the form of a retroactive lump sum payment.

Ryan McKinnon covers schools for the Herald-Tribune. Connect with him at ryan.mckinnon@heraldtribune.com or on Twitter: @JRMcKinnon. Support the Sarasota Herald-Tribune by subscribing today.


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