Monday, October 16, 2017

Pay For Most Brevard County Public Schools Teachers Could Grow More Than 4%


VIERA, Florida - Teachers rated “highly effective” could see their pay jump by an average of $1,975 for 2017-2018 at Brevard Public Schools. Teachers rated “effective” could receive $1,431 more in pay, on average.

Those increases of 4.1 percent and 3 percent, respectively, would come from a combination of a proposed salary raise and annual bonuses funded for three years by the Florida Legislature.

The school district proposed the raise as its “best and final” offer at a bargaining session with the Brevard Federation of Teachers on Monday, October 16, 2017. However, the union did not accept that and other terms and declared an impasse.

Although smaller than the 5 percent raise the BFT once called for in negotiations, the proposed 1.5 percent average salary increase would be the fifth straight annual raise for teachers. The trend:


2013-14:  4.53% raise
2014-15:  2.12%
2015-16:  5.1%
2016-17: 1.3%
2017-18:  1.5%

Today, the average BPS teacher salary is $47,723  a year or $4,772.30 per month based on a 10-month contract.

The raise proposed by the school district would have to be ratified by the BFT membership and approved by the five-member School Board.

"The Board gave us an awful salary proposal," said Brevard Federation of Teachers President, Dan Bennett. "They know last year’s raise was paltry and they agreed to make a plan to do better this year. Somehow they did worse."

Teacher Pay Compared To All Brevard Workers And Retirees

The average annual salary for all 200,000 workers in Brevard County is $46,520. But because most adults work 12 months a year, that only amounts to $3,876.66 a month for the average worker in Brevard. In 2016, wages for all workers in Brevard grew an average of 1.6%.

The raises given and offered by the BPS administration to teachers over the last five years are also triple the rate that 158,000 retired and disabled Brevard County residents have received with their COLA increases during the same time period.

Teacher Evaluations Heavily Skewed Towards 'Highly Effective'

On average, the estimated 4,436 teachers rated “highly effective” on evaluations (about 90 percent of all faculty) would receive an average annual raise of $775.  In addition, highly effective teachers will receive state bonuses of $1,200 each.

The estimated 478 teachers rated “effective” (10 percent of faculty) would receive an average annual raise of $631.  Effective teachers also will receive state bonuses of $800. The bonuses are funded by the Florida Legislature for the next three years.

Teachers rated “needs improvement” (less than 1 percent of faculty) would receive a cost-of-living raise of $200 but are not eligible for bonuses.

"The matter of [annual contract teachers'] job security is just as egregious. No, I will not just trust the district – and every principal in the district – to do the right thing and recommend teachers who have good evaluations," Bennett said.

"Back before we had any protections, I saw dozens of highly effective and effective annual contract teachers simply let go at the end of the school year. Some were sick. Some were pregnant. Some were just told they “didn’t fit.” Often no explanation was offered .... The world of annual contract teachers certainly improved when we got the protections currently in our contract. There’s no good reason the district cannot help us on this matter. And yet, they expect me just to trust the district and not make waves."

BPS Administration Budget Priorities

The District says that the proposed 1.5 percent raise comes in a year when all “new” operating dollars at the Board’s disposal come from budget cuts to administration and support divisions, not from growth in property taxes or money from the Legislature.

The School Board's priorities call for spending about half of that $6.73 million on raises for teachers who have been rated effective or highly effective, one-third on raises for support personnel, and the remainder on strategic initiatives to improve service to students and families.

Those strategic initiatives include suicide-prevention programs, reopening an elementary school in Titusville, and new busing for students to choice programs.

Additional Benefits For Teachers

The additional pay isn’t the only benefit Brevard teachers have received through agreements between the School Board and BFT. Outside of this year’s collective-bargaining, the parties have agreed to:

Eliminate time-consuming “professional grown plan” portions of evaluations to give teachers more time for instruction or planning.

More flexibility to carry-over unused “comp time” from year to year.

In addition, BPS this year opened three health clinics where teachers and staff can receive free primary and urgent care.

Teachers also received an entire paid week off due to Hurricane Irma because BPS will not have any make-up days at the end of this school year.

"Morale in the workplace is important. Being able to pay bills is important too. And no, “not making up hurricane days” does not count as a raise," said Bennett.


Image and video credit: BPS