Volusia Teachers’ Union Turns Down Raises From School District

By on May 16, 2018 in WNDB News

DeLand, FL – The goal is to get a deal done by June 1st, but Volusia County Schools and its teachers’ union seem to be heading in opposite directions.

The Volusia Teachers Organization has rejected the district’s latest offer to raise salaries by 5% over the next three school years, including an $800 bonus for each teacher due in 2018-19.

In an interview on WNDB’s Marc Bernier Show, VTO President Andrew Spar admitted he’s not sure where to go next after what he called a “huge breakdown in negotiations”.

“Our hopes of trying to have a contract settled in a more amicable way before the end of this school year going into next school year seems to be gone and out the window at this point,” Spar added.

The part that really stuck in Spar’s craw was that the raises for the final two year were contingent on extra funding from the Florida Legislature.

“The conditions are extremely lengthy and extremely complicated,” Spar told Bernier. “It really comes down to one person in the district saying yeah, we met it, we can pay it, which is not how we see a fair proposal.”

The VCS offer would’ve given teachers an unconditional 1% raise along with the $800 bonus in 2018-19 and 2% conditional raises in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

District officials say it’s difficult to go further than that for a variety of reasons, including that state legislators barely added more money on a per-student basis to this year’s budget. Volusia will receive 45.3 cents per student next year, a 0.01% increase.

VCS was willing to reopen negotiations for 2019-20 and/or 2020-21 should the funding needed to do those raises not come through, according to Chief Financial Officer Debra Muller.

“Teacher pay is a priority for our school board,” Muller added. “This three-year deal invites the union leadership to share in the same risk our school board faces each year. If the Legislature makes teacher pay a priority, this deal ensures pay raises for our teachers.”

The district’s negotiators were also not happy about a VTO proposal to increase the elementary teacher day by 30 minutes, mirroing what’s already in place at middle and high schools, It would’ve given elementary teachers a seven hour work day but get paid for seven and a half hours a day.

VCS negotiators are looking to implement an incentive tied to increased teacher attendance and mandate a basic form of professional attire, something VTO hasn’t given in on, according to VCS Superintendent Tom Russell.

“Nothing would make me happier than to have a deal for our teachers before they go home for the summer,” Russell noted. “We need the Legislature to step up and make teacher pay a priority.”

No date has been set for future negotiations.

Copyright 2018 Southern Stone Communications.

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