County teachers, at both the Apalachicola Bay Charter and Franklin County schools, will receive a boost in their take-home pay this school year of about $1,700.
By a 4-1 vote, with School Board Member David Hinton dissenting, the school board on Dec. 5 ratified a one-year addendum to the existing three-year contract that will grant teachers at Franklin County School a $1,860 raise this school year, which translates to a net $1,662.
The only teachers who won’t be getting the raise will be those in their first year at the school. The reason for this is that when Gov. Rick Scott last spring earmarked additional school funding for raises statewide, it was specified they were to go to teachers who have been determined to have been evaluated as effective, or highly effective, during the 2012-13 school year.
This statewide boost in funding was also sent to charter schools, and as a result, teachers at the ABC School, who are not part of the district’s collective bargaining unit, will also be getting raises.
ABC School Principal Chimene Johnson said 20 charter school teachers and three administrators will be getting a raise of about $1,700 in annual take-home pay.
She said the decision to give the raises was made by the charter school board, based on discussion of her recommendations. She said it was decided that any first-year teachers at the school who taught last year in Florida were eligible for the raises.
Ratification of the contract addendum by the school board came after two of them questioned why none of the non-instructional support staff would be receiving raises.
“I’m very much concerned about (that),” said Hinton. “I cannot believe there’s not a salary increase for everyone concerned.”
School Board Chair Jimmy Gander said it was his understanding the matter was out of the board’s hands, since the school board was not legally entitled to shift the money to support staffers.
“We have a choice now to approve it or not to approve it,” said Hinton.
“Is it the union that does not want to share with support staff?” asked Board Member Teresa Ann Martin.
Cathy Wood, who heads up the local teacher’s union, took issue with the term “sharing,” and said it was the teachers union’s determination the money was to go strictly for “evaluated instructional personnel.”
She said that the school district could have, but chose not to, extend about $18,000 of its own funds for a raise to support staff. This, she contended, was despite having approved two recent additional hires, at a pay rate above their predecessors.
“We furloughed last year. We already helped the cause,” said Wood.
Wood said about 60 teachers at the school were slated to be granted the raise, which covers the period from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. She estimated the raise would cost a total of about $129,000.
Wood said all teachers and support staff, whether or not they were members of the union, were eligible to cast ballots on the contract Dec. 3. She said about 97 percent of the teaching staff voted yes, while about 80 percent of the support staff were in favor of the deal.
Talks between the teachers, who were assisted by Florida Education Association staffer Paul Burdett, and the administration, assisted by Tallahassee labor attorney Leonard Dietzen, had been ongoing for much of the calendar year. Wood represented the local rank-and-file among the teachers,, and Tammy Sasnett represented the support staff.
In addition to the pay hike, the deal approves changes to the sick leave policy and health insurance reimbursement.
Wood said both sides agreed there needed to be changes that would make it easier for employees to transfer sick leave to co-workers. The board plans to now adopt a revised sick leave policy in keeping with Florida statutes.
In addition, Wood said, the school board agreed to pay all current employees $2,500 if an employee who now has health insurance with the school district decides to disenroll from the school board’s policy and obtain health insurance through another carrier, such as a spouse’s plan. Upon proof of new insurance, the school board agreed to pay the $2,500 annually in 24 payments on a prorata basis.
The two sides also agreed to a revision to the “differentiated pay plan,” which entails more than $64,000 in supplemental contracts granted to various coaches and extracurricular activity sponsors.
The new contract makes several changes to the list of supplemental contracts, with many of the details to be further reviewed by the school board early next year.