The Palm Beach County School District officially offered all of its teachers $2,000 raises today.
But the union representing those roughly 12,000 public school teachers says it hopes to come up with a counter-proposal over the next two weeks for what it feels is a fair way to dole out roughly $30 million in state money meant to reward teachers and other employees — including media specialists and principals.
“For us it is about balancing the needs of newer employees getting their fair share versus those who have been here longer and ‘taken the hits,’” Classroom Teachers Association Executive Director Lynn Cavall said during a six-hour collective bargaining session today over the teachers’ district contract.
Mike Burke, district chief operating officer, said the district’s opening $2,000 offer includes all of the state money plus something extra from the district. That’s because the state funds was only enough to pay for giving each eligible employee a $1,952 raise.
This year’s proposed raise would be the largest most Palm Beach County teachers have seen since at least 2007. Last December, the union and school district agreed to teacher raises ranging from $678 to $4,300, depending on years of experience. But the vast majority of teachers received $1,500 increases.
“We do appreciate the first offer you put on the table,” Cavall told district negotiators. “We do recognize that it’s all the money you received and a little more.”
District Chief of Labor Relations Van Ludy said the proposal also would eliminate the “step” schedule the district has used for years to determine teacher pay. That schedule has set amounts that teacher pay is supposed to automatically increase after each year of experience. In actual practice, teachers found their step raises frozen for years because of district budget woes.
The district’s proposal would replace the steps with a “minimum-maximum” salary schedule. The new minimum teacher salary would be $40,000, up from the current minimum of $38,000. The new maximum salary would be $74,500, up from the current maximum of $73,245.
Burke said that unlike the old step schedule, the district’s new proposal would allow officials to negotiate a new formula each year for handing out raises based on available money — such as giving all teachers who got “effective” evaluations a certain percentage raise.
Cavall said that part of the proposal was problematic and that the union would make a counter-proposal that kept the “step” schedule.
“This is not where we’re moving towards, putting everyone on a performance-based schedule,” she said.
To make its counter-proposal at the next bargaining session scheduled for Sept. 10, Cavall said the union is asking for more budget data to see if there’s additional money to give something more to veteran teachers who got no raises during the hard budget times.
The teachers union plans to come back with a counter-proposal to be discussed Sept. 10 with the district. Another bargaining session is scheduled for Sept. 16.