Although Governor Rick Scott promised an across the board pay raise of $2,500 for teachers, and notwithstanding the Florida legislatures’ approval of $480 million for those pay raises some six months ago, teachers in South Florida have not received any portion of the approved money.
Issues have arisen delaying the distribution and amount of pay raises for teachers. The Florida legislature broadened the scope of who would be entitled to a pay raise from teachers only to teachers, assistant principals, principals, and other instructional staff. As a result, coming to an agreement on how to apportion the $2,500 has slowed the distribution.
Negotiations are on-going in Broward and Palm Beach counties in an effort to figure out whether to tie the raises to evaluations in addition to resolving two arbitration rulings concerning back pay and adding an additional teaching period.
Robert Runcie, Broward Superintendent, has said, “It makes sense to look at all these things together, but Sharon Glickman, Broward Teachers Union president, alleges the district is using the pay raises as leverage over other legal disputes in an attempt to reach a package deal.
Each school district must submit a plan for teacher pay raises for approval. Once the district and its union agree on a plan the School Board must approve the plan and the members of the union must ratify the plan. Only a hand full of school districts have submitted a plan and neither Broward nor Palm Beach are one of those districts.
Maureen McHugh, a teacher in Pompano Beach said, “There’s a huge pot of money just sitting there. I don’t understand what the big holdup is. This is absolutely taking too long. The union and the district are dropping the ball on this.”
Mark Pudlow of the Florida Education Association said, “With each class of person that you entered, what was available for raises went down. It was kind of one of those deals that the $2,500 made a great sound bite, but it was always more complicated.”
The proposal to provide teacher pay raises was a good idea and an even better public relations move for Gov. Scott. The passing of legislation authorizing funding for the pay raises was welcomed by teachers across the state; however, the implementation of a good idea has gotten bogged down in the process. Doesn’t it always seem that way when politics gets involved?
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