Some points OK’d, but teacher salary impasse remains

The Brevard Federation of Teachers and the school district have agreed to several contract changes for this school year, but the two sides are still at an impasse over teacher salaries.

They have agreed on four points in meetings over the past few weeks, including:

n Teachers who refer a student to the administration for disciplinary issues can deny the student’s re-entry to class for up to 45 minutes after the incident.

n No more than six early-release Fridays per year can be used for professional training.

n No more than two teacher preparation periods per week can be used for meetings.

n Teachers can transfer up to eight hours of sick leave to a co-worker.

“We were pleased with the progress that was made at the last session,” BFT president Anthony Colucci said.

“The district had a new chief negotiator that was prepared and willing to listen and compromise. We definitely fought hard to make some good progress in our contract this year.”

But Colucci called out the district for not coming to terms sooner, and for continuing to battle over pay raises, despite promises from School Board members that teacher pay would be a priority this year.

“Frankly, it shouldn’t have to be this difficult,” he said. “We put forth reasonable proposals that will help solve problems faced by teachers in this district.”

District officials could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, the two sides were scheduled to meet again this week for negotiations on several other contract points, and mediation on teacher pay is scheduled for April 23.

The union is asking for an annual raise of $3,594 for teachers rated “highly effective,” which is the category most of the district’s approximately 5,000 teachers fall under. BFT wants $2,695.50 more for those rated “effective.”

The union has said its numbers are based on what teachers are paid in other counties nearby. District spokesman Matt Reed has previously said the only likely way to come up with that much money would be to lay off school support staff.

Average annual pay for Brevard County Teachers is $47,065, according to the Florida Department of Education. The average teacher salary in Florida was $48,168 for the 2017-2018 school year, ranging from a high of $58,326 in Monroe County to a low of $37,144 in Gadsden County. Nationwide, teachers are paid an average of $58,353.

The April 23 mediation is scheduled before a special magistrate who will help both sides come to an agreement, if they haven’t already by then. However, the mediation is not binding.

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