Orange teacher raises part of new agreement
Most teachers in Orange County's public schools will get raises of $3,100 or $2,000 this year, plus an extra $1,000 bonus, according to an agreement reached Thursday between district administrators and the local teachers union.
The two-year salary agreement provides an average pay hike of 6.3 percent to more than 13,000 teachers. It also boosts starting teacher pay by $1,000 this year to $38,500 and then by another $500 the next school year.
Teachers who were employed last year will get the $1,000 bonus because in the 2013-14 school year, the Orange County school district won the Broad Prize for Urban Education, a national competition.
Diana Moore, president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association, said the pay hikes and the bonus would help teachers recover from the economic downturn and help improve morale in a challenging year for public education.
"This was a big boost for them," Moore said during a press conference Friday afternoon.
The new package will help keep talented teachers in Orange's classrooms, recruit new ones and further the idea that teaching is profession worthy of decent pay, she added.
The agreement, hammered out Thursday, and the press conference attended by both union and district representatives seemed in sharp contrast to last year's negotiations, which stalled, required a hearing with a magistrate and didn't wrap up until May.
The district will spend $56 million during the two years to pay for the new pay package. It will use some savings to help cover the costs but given Gov. Rick Scott's pledge to boost school funding in the coming year expects that fund will be replenished, said Scott Howat, the district's chief negotiator.
Howat said district leaders hoped teachers viewed the new salary package as a sign that "all that hard work and sacrifice has been valued."
Teachers below the new minimum starting salary will see their pay raised to the new minimum or be given $500, whichever is greater.
The agreement also bumps up the supplements provided to teachers with advanced degrees and to those who take on extra duties such as coaching. Coaching supplements have been stagnant since 2007, Moore said.
The pay raises will be retroactive to August, when the new school year started.
Teachers evaluated as "highly effective" will get $3,100 pay increases, those rated "effective" will get $2,000 and those with lower ratings will get $500. Eighty percent of teachers will get either $3,100 or $2,000.
The salary agreement must be ratified by teachers.
There will be no raises for teachers next year unless state funding increases by more than $308 per student. Then negotiations could begin again, the agreement said.Copyright © 2015, Orlando Sentinel