Scott urges counties, including Palm Beach, to OK teacher pay hikesby John Kennedy | December 2nd, 2013
Gov. Rick Scott tried to light a fire Monday under two dozen Florida counties, including Palm Beach, which still haven’t approved the teacher pay raises he made his top priority during last spring’s legislative session.
Scott said that 28 school districts have finalized teacher pay hikes, while another 15 have reached tentative agreements still awaiting a vote by school boards.
“We understand the local negotiation process that every district must go through in order to finalize teacher pay raise amounts,” Scott said in a letter Monday to Florida School Superintendents. “But we urge any district that has not yet reached a final agreement to contact Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart so we can offer any assistance possible to expedite this district-level process.”
Scott pushed the Legislature to approve $480 million for raises that were to range from $2,500 each for teachers rated “effective” and as much as $3,500 for those who earned “highly effective” grades. But negotiations between teacher unions and local boards have left many teachers waiting, while the raises in some counties also have fallen more around the $1,500 range.
The Palm Beach County Teachers Association and school officials are scheduled to continue negotiations Wednesday and Thursday this week but remain at odds over a range of issues. Palm Beach and Orange, which is at a declared impasse in negotiations, are the state’s largest counties with no final deal in the works.
Scott is running for re-election next year. The Democratic frontrunner challenging him is Charlie Crist, who as a Republican governor became a teachers’ union pet for vetoing legislation that would’ve tied teacher pay to student performance, a measure approved under Scott.
Scott, though, is making an appeal to teachers. In his letter, the Republican governor said the pay hikes, “represent something more than money.
“This funding is a commitment,” Scott wrote superintendents. “It is a commitment that future generations of Florida workers will have the training, skills and education they need to compete and succeed in a global economy.”