School Board OKs raises for all — from teachers to Avossa

Updated Dec 14, 2017
On the first day of school, Superintendent Robert Avossa visits with students in Kaitlin Jackson’s third-grade class at Grassy Waters Elementary School. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

The Palm Beach County School Board unanimously agreed to give the district’s roughly 12,500 teachers raises of 3.2 percent on average, while other district employees from principals to bus mechanics will see their pay rise about 3 percent.

Because Superintendent Robert Avossa’s raise was tied by contract to those of district administrators, the board vote also cleared the way for him to earn a 3 percent raise or an additional $9,750 — his first raise in three years.

This month, Avossa earned an overall “highly effective” rating from board members, setting him up to earn whatever similarly rated administrators earned. The increase brings his annual base salary to $334,750.

The raises cover most of the district’s 27,000 employees and the increases are expected to cost the district about $30 million this year. Representatives for the school police department will likely begin negotiations soon, said Chief Financial Officer Mike Burke.

While the averages come in at around 3 percent, some will get bigger bumps. In lieu of raises, workers including school treasurers and some instructional assistants, will be moved up to a different salary level which will translate into raises of at least 5 percent. 

The district also moved to increase some of the lowest hourly wages, boosting anyone making $10.50 an hour to $10.75 – and if that turns out to be less than 3 percent, they would get more. That group includes mechanics, cafeteria workers and custodial staff.

Some of the raises would go into effect in January, while others, including those for teachers and school administrators, are retroactive to July.

The raises will be the largest that the county’s teachers have seen in four years but are dependent on the union ratifying the contract.

Under the contract, those teachers rated “highly effective” would see 3.5 percent raises, while those rated “effective” get 2.75 percent. It is the first time in years that the district will distribute teacher raises on a percentage basis rather than with fixed dollar amounts.

Union president, Justin Katz, called it a “good contract” and said it begins to address inequities that followed the recession and years with low or no raises.

“Everybody always wants more, but I can’t be upset with teachers getting 3.5 percent raises,” Katz said.