Thousands of Duval teachers and other school employees will vote this week and next on new three-year contracts which include pay raises or step increases and improvements in some non-economic issues.

 

The three tentative agreements are the result of eight months of negotiations.

Ballots were mailed but the deadline for when they’ll be counted is extending from Monday, Jan. 29, to noon Friday, Feb. 3, said Terrie Brady, DTU president. The extension was to accommodate bulk mailing. If a majority of each unit approves the contracts, the School Board will likely vote on them at its Feb. 6 meeting.

Salary payouts are retroactive back to July 1.

“We do collaborative bargaining,” Brady said. “Everything in this contract has been agreed upon by both sides. We’ve got a year in which we had a budget shortfall, but the board has tried to put employees on an equal playing field, to give them comparable contracts.”

Duval’s school board learned last fall the district overspent its operating budget last year by at least $21 million, causing some budget cuts and a dip into district reserves.

The newly proposed contracts call for teacher raises or step increases for at least the first two years. Then, after a district and union study of performance pay is complete, decisions will be made later about third year salaries.

Duval’s teachers are paid based on one of two kinds of salary systems, a “grandfather schedule” which pays teachers “step” raises based on years experience and qualifications, and a “performance pay” plan which pays set amounts as raises based on whether teachers are deemed “effective” or “highly effective” in annual evaluations.

State legislators hoped that putting teachers on performance pay schedules and annual employment contracts would improve student performance.

That is why teachers hired after July 1, 2011 are automatically placed on performance pay, while teachers hired before then could choose either salary plan. Most of those remained on a grandfather salary schedule, Brady said.

Earlier this year, the district bargaining team proposed adding three steps to the “grandfather schedule,” which would have caused some step raises to shrink and it would have lengthened the time a teacher needs to reach the top salary, which this year will range from $67,801 for a bachelor-degree holding teacher to $74,400 for a teacher with a doctorate.

“DTU was able to successfully block the addition of steps to the grandfather schedule as well as the decreasing of step values,” Brady said.

Under the proposed contract, grandfather schedule teachers will move up a step each of the next two years, and those on the top rung will receive a $500 supplement for both years. Grandfathered teachers represent about 44 percent of the district’s 8,200 teachers.

For instance, a teacher with a bachelor’s degree who is on Step 10 of the grandfather schedule would earn $42,800 annually, or $29.79 per hour, this school year and would move up to Step 11, earning $43,550, or $30.31 an hour, next school year.

The district’s bargaining team also tried to reduce the expected raises for teachers on the performance pay salary plan, but DTU was able to maintain them. Highly effective teachers on performance pay will continue to receive $2,001 raises and effective teachers will receive $1,000.50 in raises for each of the next two school years under the proposed contract.

Teachers rated as “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory” do not receive performance raises. About 80 percent of Duval’s teachers were rated effective or highly effective, Brady said.

As with the grandfather schedule, the third year’s performance pay will be determined after the pay study, she said.

“DTU will fight to at least maintain the current levels of pay,” Brady said.

Performance pay salaries build on each other, therefore the cost climbs each year for the district.

“This is one of the reasons negotiations took so long,” Brady said. “So each year teachers begin at a higher annual rate of pay before the next award is received. This is great for our teachers, but the district asserts it is too expensive to maintain.”

District officials were not available for comment, a spokeswoman said.

The state of Florida this year earmarked certain district funds for use as bonuses for classroom teachers, in addition to salary. Teachers on the grandfather and performance pay schedules qualify.

Classroom teachers who are highly effective can receive $1,200 bonuses, while effective teachers will receive up to $800. The amount could be lower depending on how many teachers are eligible, Brady said.

The bonuses must be paid by April 1, 2018.

Bonuses are one-time payments, taxed at 25 percent, and are not considered salary for retirement purposes, making them less valuable than a comparable pay raise, Brady added.

Many teachers also will continue receiving supplements to their salary based on certain circumstances.

For instance, teachers at Title 1 (high-poverty) schools or at schools which received an F or three D grades are paid a $400 supplement, while others at Bridge to Success, which serves over-aged students, could receive up to $3,ooo annually.

Certain math or science teachers can get up to $5,000 annually, while vocational teachers of aviation, aerospace, gaming, sports medicine, welding and HVAC can collect up to $3,000 annually.

Teachers of special needs students qualify for bonuses based on the type of disability, with those teaching students with autism or with emotional or behavioral disorders earning up to $2,500 more.

Most teachers are members of the DTU, which represents a wide variety of certificated educators including teachers, social workers, counselors, psychologists, interventionists, specialists and others.

The union also represents many non-teaching employees for whom it negotiated new tentative contracts.

Its UOPD unit, which stands for United Office Personnel of Duval, represents office workers, security guards, bookkeepers, clerks and technical managers. DTU’s paraprofessional unit represents educational aids, called paraprofessionals, who work with special needs students, English language learners, in-school suspensions, and it also represents child development workers, among others.

Brady said changes in their compensation will be phased in so all employees in those units will earn at least $10 an hour by the 2019-20 school year. Most office assistants and security guards make less than that now, she said.

There also were changes to non-economic portions of the contracts. For instance, teachers and other workers for the first time gained two days of bereavement leave. And paraprofessionals and UOPD employees will get credit for up to two years of active military duty, she said.

Denise Smith Amos: 904-359-4083