Both the teachers and support staff unions still have to ratify it, but new collective bargaining agreements between school district employees and the administration have been agreed to by the negotiating teams.

Both contracts are expected to be approved by the rank-and-file of the Franklin County Teachers Association and the Franklin Educational Support Personnel.

The FCTA was represented at the talks by their president Jaime Duhart, while FESPA was represented by Tammy Boone. Karen Peddie, director of human resources, and Shannon Venable, director of finance, represented the district.

“We have a good relationship with the bargaining units,” said Superintendent Traci Moses. “The communication the board feels has improved significantly between the bargaining teams and the process really has been very smooth.

“We want to compensate them as much as we can and we do have to go by what we are allotted from the state,” she said. “We want to compensate all of our staff as much as we possibly can. There’s no way we could pay our staff what they’re worth.

“They don’t go into education for the income,” she said. “They go into it for the outcome.”

The new pacts allocate roughly $45,000 additional monies to each of the two bargaining units, who secure a compensation package both for their members and for non-members of the union.

Peddie said for the FCTA, all the money will go towards performance pay, and will be retroactive to July 1, the start of this fiscal year.

Teachers deemed to be unsatisfactory or in need of improvement will receive no additional monies, while those evaluated as to effective will each get about $850 more, while those determined to be highly effective will each get around $1,100 more.

In addition, Peddie said the school board has added an attendance incentive for the remainder of the school year. This means that if a teacher has no absences in a single month, beginning Feb. 1, they will receive a $100 bonus for that month.

This will not apply if they miss a portion of a day, she said.

The school board has also added a $500 supplemental contract for the individual who coordinates the Special Olympics, as well as a $500 supplemental for the coordinator of after-school car pickup duty. This applies mainly to elementary and middle school students, and ensures that the child gets into the vehicle of the appropriate person who is picking them up. Identification cards have been assigned by the district to those parents or guardians who have signed up to have permission to pick up a child, Moses said.

The board also eliminated two obsolete supplementals, for the Focus trainer of an online data program, as well as for the sponsor of the Flag Corps.

The contract also removes the Success Award, and adds a supplemental for the substitute teacher coordinator position.

In the case of FESPA, the same $45,000 in additional monies is being divvied up among the hourly workers, who are divided between those on 12-month and 10-month contracts,

These employees will each get a 2.1 percent pay increase in their hourly wage, with the exception of six 12-month employees who hold secretarial positions. About $10,000 of this money was previsouly assigned when the district did a field adjustment to their salaries.

In addition, 12-month employees will each get four paid holidays in June, which means they won’t have to work Fridays that month.

The FESPA contract also adds a $500 supplement for the individual chosen as Employee of the Year, something that the teachers added last year.

Also this week, the FCTA announced that in the days leading up to the March 5 opening of the session of the Florida Legislature, thousands of teachers, parents, students, and community members will be wearing red (#Red4Ed), waving signs at major intersections, and leafleting events urging the governor and legislature to “Fund Our Future” by making make neighborhood public schools and public school students their top priority.

An FCTA news release said educators “are particularly concerned about two big funding issues: school safety and a growing teacher shortage.

“Our public school students deserve a high quality education, and our state has a responsibility to provide school districts the resources to make that happen,” said Duhart.

Florida is suffering from an alarming teacher shortage, in part, because legislators have for decades engaged in “bonus pay” schemes rather than adequately funding teacher salaries, she said.

The news release said student performance in the state on standardized tests is among the best in the country, but that Florida ranks 45th in the nation for teacher salaries and 47th in pay for education staff professionals.

“Overall, no other state collects less to fund our neighborhood public schools than Florida. Florida ranks dead last in public school revenue for every $1,000 of personal income generated in-state,” reads the release.

The FCTA said that Florida started this school year with over 4,000 teacher vacancies, and that at midyear, less than half of the vacancies had been filled and many were staffed by full time substitutes without appropriate certification, a practice that has long plagued Franklin County.

The Florida Department of Education projects Florida will have over 10,000 teacher vacancies at the start of the 2019-20 school year.

“We need Floridians who care about their neighborhood public schools to remind the Legislature to work harder to solve the widespread teacher and staff shortages facing our public schools, and our teachers will be helping to deliver that reminder,” said Duhart.