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Ormond Beach Observer Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021 3 months ago

Volusia teachers' salary increase OK'ed by School Board

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The plan now needs the state's approval.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

The Volusia County School Board unanimously approved on Tuesday, Jan. 12, a tentative agreement that, if given the green light by the Florida Department of Education, will increase the base teacher salary to $44,335. 

This action comes after the district and teachers' union Volusia United Educators reached a consensus on the issue in December 2020, following months of negotiations and two impasse hearings. 

“We batted a lot of things back and forth and so we’re very excited we’ve come to this resolution," said Mark West, Volusia County Schools chief human resources officer. 

The teacher salary increase is a result of the passing of House Bill 641, which allocated school districts around the state with funds to raise the minimum salary to as close to $47,500 as possible. Volusia County received $9,975,410 to accomplish this, and 80% of those funds will be used to increase teacher salaries, while the remaining 20% will be used to increase the base salary of other instructional personnel, according to the agreement.

In addition to the base salary increase, the agreement outlines that all teachers will receive at least a 2.5% raise. All increases will be retroactive to July 1, 2020.

West said that once the state approves the agreement, the district will move forward with implementing the increases.

VUE President Elizabeth Albert said the union is ready to move past this issue and onto 2021.

“We have come to an agreement that I think is, by far, much better than where we started, and so we’re happy with that," Albert said. "We’re happy that it ratified yesterday with a 95% approval rate from those who voted.”

At the Jan. 12 meeting, the School Board was also supposed to discuss the creation of a "Volusia County School District Police Department," but the item was pulled from the agenda by School Board Member Ruben Colon, who asked district staff review it and present it before the board during a workshop for discussion. The board unanimously approved.

The plan to create the police department would not have included the hiring of more employees, according to a press release issued by VCS last week. It proposed utilizing current employees of the district's Safety and Security Department who are already certified law enforcement officers. 

"Many other school districts in Florida have similar hybrid arrangements with their own sworn law enforcement officers who work alongside school guardians and school resource officers and school resource deputies provided in partnership with other law enforcement agencies," the press release stated.

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