Teacher pay raises could come sooner — but there’s a catchby John Kennedy | May 1st, 2013
Teachers and other school personnel could get a pay raise earlier than next year under a budget agreement reached Wednesday between the House and Senate.
But the deal still would require Palm Beach County and many other school districts to develop a teacher evaluation system required before the pay hikes can be distributed. The county and teachers’ union representatives have been working on an evaluation system, talks that could accelerate with the latest budget deal.
“It helps that the counties are being given this flexibility,” said Vern Pickup-Crawford, lobbyist for county schools.
Under the Legislature’s initial plan, teachers graded “effective” would be eligible for a $2,500 pay raise, beginning in June 2014. Those rated “highly effective” would be eligible for $3,500.
But Wednesday, House and Senate budget negotiators agreed to allow districts to hand out the raises before that date — as long as they were based on teacher evaluations.
The Legislature in 2011 required that teacher evaluations be shaped heavily by student performance and be in place by next year. The Florida Education Association has sued to overturn the requirement — but linking pay raises to the evaluation system could complicate that challenge.
Lawmakers had already agreed to spend $480 million this year on the pay-hikes sought by Gov. Rick Scott. But legislators insisted they be give out based on job performance, not across-the-board, as the governor recommended.
The Legislature also expanded the pool of those eligible to tap into the $480 million pool to include guidance counselors, librarians, school psychologists, social workers, principals and assistant principals. The FEA has criticized the move as likely reducing the amount available to teachers.
Scott, though, has said that all teachers should be able to get pay raises of at least $2,000 each, under the pay plan.