Jacksonville public school teachers ratified a contract
yesterday that will provide most with a modest salary increase
this year, but one that many say will do little to make the pay
A series of three contracts between Duval Teachers United and
the school system will provide an average raise of 5 percent to
teachers and teacher assistants, and an average 3 percent raise
to education specialists and office workers.
The increases are averages because the employees will receive
varying raises depending on their years of experience.
For instance, a quarter of the Jacksonville teachers are at the
top level of the pay scale and will receive a 3.2 percent raise.
The increases, retroactive to July 1, should begin reaching
employees this month if the School Board approves the contracts
Ninety-three percent of the teachers ratified the contract. But
some teachers did so begrudgingly. Prior to the count, several
teachers who voted said the average raise does little to improve
a salary scale that continues to lag behind many other
"I think they're very hurt," said Pat Latimer, a third-grade
teacher at West Riverside Elementary School. "I hate to say
insulting . . . it's disappointing. Particularly when other
states are paying more money."
Under the proposed bachelor's degree scale, starting teachers
would earn $24,782. Raises of less than 5 percent would be
provided to teachers with less than 10 years of experience.
Teachers who have worked for 15 years will earn $30,200.
"Five percent is really hardly keeping up with inflation," said
Gloria Oehlman, an English as a Second Language teacher.
"Teachers should get more respect. One of the ways to show that
is to support them, literally."
Nationally, the average teacher's salary was $33,000 in 1996,
according to the most recent survey by the American Federation
of Teachers. The state average in 1997 was $33,885.
The proposed salary scale for Jacksonville would require a
teacher to work for 18 years before reaching that level.
Ninety-four percent of the teacher assistants ratified their
contract. And 80 percent of office staff endorsed the package.
Union officials would not say how many ballots were cast by each
Many didn't vote. Of 11,000 union members among the three
units, only 2,281 returned ballots.
Andy Ford, president of the union, said the negotiators secured
as much for the teachers, and other professionals, as the school
system could provide. …