Volusia County, FL – Negotiations continued Tuesday between the Volusia County School Board and the Volusia County teachers union as representatives for both sides scrambled to try to come to an agreement on salaries, benefits, and other issues for the upcoming school year’s contract.
The teachers union is asking for a revised 10.5% raise for teachers over a three-year period (2.5% for 2018-2019, 4% in 2019-2020, and 4% in 2020-2021). The 4% pay raise in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 would be contingent on money from the Florida legislature. The school board is proposing a 1% raise for teachers plus a bonus of $800. The bonus alone is valued at a 2.1% pay raise for beginning teachers, according to Volusia County Schools.
Andrew Spar, President of Volusia United Educators, says that another issue at stake with negotiations is healthcare for teachers. “We’re looking at a decent health insurance increase next year, and they want to pass that increase onto employees. The health insurance increase, along with district’s plan to have employees pay 100% of the dental insurance now would mean that most employees would take home less money next year than they currently take home this year,” explains Spar.
The school board says that it is facing funding issues since the Florida Legislature only provided Volusia County Schools an extra 45 cents per student (.01%) to the district’s base student allocation, and that is less than what County schools received from the State a decade ago after inflation.
Additionally, the school district is grappling with a new State mandate to put armed personnel in each of the County’s schools following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, FL. The school board says State funding falls at least $2 million short of the cost of complying with the mandate.
“We recognize the challenges that the teachers have, and the board’s priority is to give them a pay increase, and we really wish that we could financially give them more than 1%, but unfortunately, the funding from the legislature is just not there,” says Volusia County Schools’ Chief Financial Officer Debra Muller.
Aside from the issue of pay raises, the teachers union has rejected a proposal from the school board to enforce minimal standards of professional attire, a proposal for the establishment of a financial incentive for improved teacher attendance, and a proposal that would increase the elementary school work day by 30 minutes to match middle and high schools.
To read the full proposals from the district and union, click here.
Negotiations between the school board and the teachers union will resume May 15, and the next fiscal year for the school district begins July 1. “If we do not make significant progress in the May 15 session, we’re very concerned that we will not complete negotiations before the end of the school year, which means that teachers, when they start back in August, would be coming back without a contract,” says Spar.
Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2018.