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Ormond Beach Observer Saturday, Apr. 18, 2015 3 years ago

Rough waters: Teachers union still unhappy with board's negotiations

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by: Emily Blackwood News Editor

During the 11th meeting regarding their salaries, the Volusia Teacher’s Organization stormed out in protest. 

The debate between the VTO and the Volusia County School Board is seemingly far from over. In a the 11th negotiation meeting April 16, the board presented what they’re calling “their best offer.”

According to Director of Community Information Services for Volusia County Schools Nancy Wait, the district presented a plan that would increase teachers’ salaries by $1,000 minimum a year, with an additional $750 for teachers on the performance pay schedule with a rating of “highly effective,” and an additional $300 for teachers on the performance pay schedule with a rating of “effective.”

Though the school board finds the salary increase substantive, the raise is higher than Seminole county teachers received this year, VTO members found it offensive.

"They want to give a very small increase, or a smaller increase to those who have tenure than to those who don't have tenure and said if they want the bigger increase, they need to give up their tenure," said Spar told News 13.

The school board chalked up the raise to a lack of funding.

“I am disappointed that the union rejected the very best offer the district can afford,” stated Superintendent James Russell in a press release. “The problems caused by years of reduced education funding cannot be immediately overcome when the district is just beginning to return to funding levels from seven years ago.“

Spar said the new pay increase was pinning the new teachers against the tenured teachers, and called it “bully tactics.”

“Effective July 1, 2014, state law requires that all annual contract teachers must be placed on a performance pay salary schedule,” Wait said. “All tenured teachers must also be given the opportunity to be placed on the performance pay salary schedule. All remaining tenured teachers will be placed on a grandfathered salary schedule.”

Wait also said the Florida statute requires performance pay be funded prior to funding any salary adjustments on the grandfather salary schedule. In addition, any salary adjustment on the performance pay schedule for teachers rated highly effective must be greater than the largest salary adjustment on the grandfather schedule.

Spar and the other participating members walked out after hearing the board’s latest negotiations, and are preparing for a long battle. Tammy Hadley, a parent of a student at Ormond Beach Elementary, says she supports the teachers as they ‘”work to the contract”

because she has seen first hand the commitment that teachers have to students.

“Working to contract is not making things easy for these teachers,” said Hadley, an active parent volunteer for almost 20 years. “Many of them get a lot of their work done before and after their contracts say to clock in and out of work. I have gone to the school as late as 5:30 p.m. to find teachers still working in their classrooms. Working to contract requires them to fit anywhere from three to four hours of extra work a day into their contracted time.”

Teachers all across Volusia County have been working to their contracted time as a way to protest the school board’s salary increase that many find disrespectful.

“Yes our teachers are asking for competitive pay, but they are also asking for the tools needed to properly teach our children the required curriculum,” Hadley said. “They are asking for time to prepare lesson plans, complete paperwork, attend meetings or training and/or attend after-school activities. Last but not least they are asking for respect as professionals in their fields.”

Since the union rejected the board’s offer, the school board will decide the question of the amount of raises and other negotiated issues during the pending impasse process.

This is an ongoing story. Check the ormondbeachobserver.com for updates.

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