School Board to bless teacher pay-raise plan

The Brevard County School Board was set to vote this week to finalize a deal to boost teacher pay.

The Brevard Federation of Teachers and the school district have agreed that teachers rated “highly effective” will get a raise of $2,000 for the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers rated “effective” will receive a $1,500 raise. In addition, those with at least 12 years of experience teaching in Brevard schools will receive a $1,200 recurring supplement.

Provided there’s an affirmative vote to activate the new contract, Schools Superintendent Mark Mullins said teachers could start seeing those funds before the holidays.

The bonus for more experienced teachers was a key point for the union during negotiations. “We got significant dollars into the paychecks of teachers, especially our veteran teachers who are still trying to recover from pay freezes …. over the past decade,” BFT President Anthony Colucci said.

The raises are being funded with $6 million in “extra” district money found through research by the teacher’s union. Both sides said they plan to lobby the state legislature for more funding to pay teachers.

The contract ends a years-long bitter fight over teacher pay, and paves the way for smoother negotiations going forward.

“This is a big step in the right direction to achieving our shared goal of making teacher pay more competitive,” Mullins said.

The contract also includes several other provisions for teachers, mostly related to language changes on issues including time off, bereavement leave, teaching assignments, planning days and the ability to transfer sick time.

The union voted on the contract last week. Their vote is non-binding and the School Board vote is largely a formality because both sides agreed on the contract provisions during bargaining meetings held in September.

The agreement was reached less than two months after teachers rejected the contract offered for the previous school year.

Negotiations on that contract dragged on for months as the union declared a stalemate and a nonbinding, independent mediator was brought in. In the end, the School Board set aside the mediator’s recommendation and approved the contract, which had lower salary increases than what the union had wanted.

Negotiations were also contentious for the 2017-2018 school year. This fall, BFT and the board agreed to work together and get the contract settled as soon as possible. That plan hit a speed bump mid-negotiation when the union walked out of a series of talks that were being held at Viera High School, but both sides later returned to the table.

“This year went well because the community was squarely behind us,” Colucci said. “Our teachers stood in solidarity and fought tirelessly for better working conditions and competitive pay. The (school) board’s new chief negotiator and team were much more willing to listen and compromise then we’ve seen over the past couple of years.”

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