Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Manatee Teachers Get Pay Boost

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Manatee Teachers Get Pay Boost

Article excerpt

MANATEE COUNTY

SCHOOLS: New contract is short of raise some sought but is first deal in years

Though schoolteachers here will not take home the $2,500 salary increase state leaders touted earlier this year, Manatee County educators and the School Board have ratified the settlement reached between the teachers union and the district last month.

Under the new contract, which would extend to 2016, teachers will see some pay frozen or cut in recent years by past leadership restored based on when they started working in the district and how much they would have been entitled to.

In Manatee, the ratification reinforces the first time in four years the union and the district have reached a collaborative agreement.

"These negotiations reflect a new era in terms of respect and valuing our employees," Board Chair Karen Carpenter said Monday.

A teacher eligible for a three-step increase would receive at least $1,750 in additional pay, Superintendent Rick Mills has said, and extra pay is expected to appear in October paychecks. The salary increase is supported by more than $8 million allocated by the state Legislature this year for teacher raises here, though at least $2 million goes to charter schools and tax contributions.

Though the Manatee County school district could have used the roughly $6.3 million left to boost the pay of non-instructional employees, the district has set aside $1.5 million for paraprofessionals and other staff through a savings plan.

Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will see a roughly 2.1 percent raise. Paraprofessionals here will see a flat increase of $381. Top-level district staff will not receive a raise this year.

Gov. Rick Scott promised teachers a $2,500 pay raise through a "Teacher Pay Raise Pep Rally Tour" earlier this year, but state representatives have mandated that pay raises be tied to merit in the future, and many districts have found that statewide allocations totaling $480 million are not enough to cover all teachers, or ensure $2,500 for everyone.

While Manatee County received funds for the raises in full this year, school officials in Sarasota County have had to raise property taxes to pay for teacher raises for their district, which has higher property values. …

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