Scott’s much touted teacher pay raises, slow to arriveby John Kennedy | October 9th, 2013
Teachers across most Florida counties, including Palm Beach, are still awaiting pay raises pushed through Legislature last spring by Gov. Rick Scott, a House budget committee was told Wednesday.
Deputy Education Commissioner Linda Champion said that only 13 of the state’s 67 counties had approved pay raises that lawmakers said were to range from $2,500 each for teachers rated “effective” and as much as $3,500 for those who earned “highly effective” grades.
In 53 counties, negotiations between school boards and teachers unions are still ongoing, while Orange County has been declared at a collective bargaining impasse.
Lawmakers acknowledged that the pay hikes were taking longer to appear than they anticipated. But Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, also said she was “disappointed” that four of the counties had issued across-the-board boosts, apparently disregarding the Legislature’s demand that they awards be based on merit.
“I’m troubled that we have superintendents and school boards that ignored that directive,” Adkins said.
In Palm Beach County, negotiations with the Classroom Teachers Associations are still underway. The CTA this week made a counter-offer involving salary schedules that could mean more money for teachers on top of $2,000 pay hikes already put forth by the school board.
Scott in 2011 signed into law legislation ending teacher tenure and introducing a merit-pay plan based in large part how students perform on standardized tests. The performance standard is to go into effect next year, a delay that may be contributing to the decision in some counties not to rely completely on merit in handing out raises.
Overall, the 13 counties where pay hikes have been distributed are mostly small, with many rural. Average pay raises for teachers have ranged between $1,500 and $2,900, representing a 2.3 percent to 6.8 percent increase, DOE reported. Administrators have drawn between $450 and $2,000 boosts in the 11 counties where they were included; non-instructional staff have collected another $80 to $1,100 in four counties where they were made part of the boost.