Collier County School District administrators plan to review an offer from the teachers union to accept half a salary step increase this year and revise next year’s salary schedule.
The proposal was made during a Monday afternoon negotiation meeting held in an attempt to settle the issue without going before a special magistrate — a move the two sides are set to make on April 25.
The district and union have been at an impasse over pay since November, with the union saying step increases are important to teachers and the district saying it can’t afford them. Negotiations began more than a year ago, in December 2011.
The union’s proposal includes a new salary schedule that sets all step increases at $1,500 for every year of effective teaching. On the current schedule, the step increases vary in amount. One is worth more than $3,700.
Union members are proposing that change because under the requirements for performance pay set to go into effect during the 2014-15 year, no step increase can be higher than the pay raise given to highly effective teachers, said Jonathan Tuttle, executive director of the Collier County Education Association.
Ian Dean, the district’s director of human resources, labor relations, legislation and employee relations, said administrators are struggling most with the proposed half step increase for this year, which would be retroactive to Jan. 8.
Tuttle argued that the district should be able to pay the increases because circumstances have changed since impasse was declared in November. Among those changes: Legislators and the governor proposed pumping more than a billion dollars extra into education; the local, state and national economies are improving; and the state Supreme Court upheld a law requiring state employees to contribute 3 percent of their pay to the state’s pension plan.
“They based their proposal on the uncertainty of the future and funding remaining flat,” Tuttle said of administrators before Monday’s meeting. “Both of those reasons are out the window now.”
But Dean said additional funding would not go into effect until next year.
“Everything on the table, as far as the Legislature is concerned, deals with next year,” he said.
Tuttle said the union wants to resolve the matter without the magistrate because waiting for the hearing and the school board’s response would delay the settlement of this year’s pay until midsummer.
“That seems like too long for our teachers,” he said, noting that the Collier school district was the only one in Florida to go up a letter grade on the state’s accountability system.
Cal Boggess, the union president, said step increases are part of teachers’ contracts and they count on them.
Dean said the district shares the union’s desire to avoid impasse.
“We’d like to a chance to brainstorm more to see if there’s anything possible that we could bring back to avoid impasse,” he said.
The two sides plan to meet again at 5 p.m. on April 10, at the union’s headquarters.
Teachers union step increase proposal
The first 10 steps on the Collier School District’s current salary schedule and the union’s proposed salary schedule:
Step... Current... Proposed
A....... $38,198....... $38,200
B....... $39,344....... $39,700
C....... $40,663....... $41,200
D....... $41,984....... $42,700
E....... $43,304....... $44,200
F ....... $44,623....... $45,700
G....... $45,943....... $47,200
H....... $47,264....... $48,700
I....... $48,583....... $50,200
J....... $49,904....... $51,700
Step A is for teachers with 0-4 years of experience. Each additional step is the equivalent of another year of teaching.
Source: Collier County teachers union.