Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Teachers Will Get Raises, but Money Is Spread Thin

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Teachers Will Get Raises, but Money Is Spread Thin

Article excerpt

MANATEE COUNTY

Teachers who have seen their pay frozen and then cut in the past three years will get a guaranteed bump in their paycheck, thanks to funds allocated by the state to Florida school districts.

But splitting a $6.3 million pot fairly among district teachers means individual take-aways aren't close to the $2,500 state leaders touted they could provide for school staff earlier this year.

The Manatee Education Association and the School District reached a tentative settlement late Monday night, primarily deciding how to allocate money for teacher raises from the Florida Legislature and a small raise the district has promised for other employees through a savings plan.

The parties came to the table at 2 p.m. Monday and by midnight -- for the first time in four years -- reached an agreement that will still have to be ratified by teachers and the School Board.

The new agreement would determine a teacher's raise based on the salary steps they would have been entitled to in recent years.

That means that a teacher eligible for a three-step increase would receive at least $1,750 in additional pay.

"One of our top priorities was to restore experience steps," Manatee Education Association President Pat Barber said. "We did that for everybody."

The tentative settlement also includes a provision that aims to create equal career earnings for teachers by combining salary schedules for those on annual contracts and tenure contracts discontinued by the state in 2011.

And though the district could have chosen to improve the pay of non-instructional employees with the state money, school officials instead allocated a separate $1.5 million for a roughly 2 percent raise for employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, as well as paraprofessionals and other staff.

That means paraprofessionals here will see a flat increase of $381. Senior staff will not receive a raise, Superintendent Rick Mills has previously said. …

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