About 40 teachers dressed in red crammed the Classroom Teachers Association building Thursday as the union and the school district returned to the bargaining table.
At issue: how to distribute state-alloted money to give teacher a pay increase.
After weeks of negotiations, school officials Thursday proposed giving $2,076 raises to most teachers. Starting teachers would receive a $2,000 raise.
The plan, however, would require the union to buy in to other proposals around elementary relief time and instructional time.
But the union's chief negotiator, Lynn Cavall said the proposal didn't address the biggest problem.
"Those people that are sitting in the middle ... I feel like we continue to squeeze those people," said Cavall. "I don’t think it’s the best way to deal with experience."
A teacher whose taught for more than eight years only receves $43,000. Under the proposal, pay for a starting teacher would increase to $40,000.
"We are still going to need to look for a way to honor the new people, but we have to find a way to differentiate those years of experience," said Cavall.
Chief Operating Officer Mike Burke said the district was tied to a thin budget and still recovering from the economic downturn.
"I haven't seen anybody go back and rewrite history," said Burke. "It's hard to recapture and offer raises for money we haven't received."
The dsitrict's plan would also slash half of the "relief" time elementary school teachers are given when their students go to special art or music class. Currently, teachers receive 30 minutes of relief time -- the proposal would give them just 15 minutes.
"We're in front of our children every waking minute of the day," said Carol Horton, a teacher at Grassy Waters Elementary. She said teachers use the time to take a bathroom break, call parents, speak to administrators or make photo copies.
"With 15 minutes taken away, there's no room for that," said Horton.
During the meeting, teachers held signs that read:
"The district is unlocking a revolving door, teachers come, teachers go," or "A+ school district, D- teacher salaries."
Both the Broward and Miami-Dade school districts have already reached an agreement over how to divvy up the pay.
Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature in April earmarked $480 million to give raises to all educators but left it up to the districts and its unions to divide it.
So far 26 of 67 school districts have submitted pay plans to the state. Another five have reached an agreement but not yet sent in the paperwork.
The district and the union will meet again Nov. 6.
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