District Seeks Resolution on Teacher Salary Increases
After careful consideration, the district’s bargaining team declared Impasse with the Volusia United Educators (VUE) regarding the distribution of the Teacher Salary Allocation. The district notified Volusia United Educators of this decision today, November 17, 2020. The district has presented 3 proposals during 4 sessions of bargaining. VUE has not responded to the latest proposal (outlined below) which staggered raise percentages giving teachers with more seniority the highest percentage as requested by VUE. The counter proposals previously submitted by VUE include a recurring cost ranging from $13 million to $2 million dollars per year to the general fund. This recurring expense is not sustainable and would have significant and material long term effects for all Volusia County Schools stakeholders. Please see a breakdown of relevant facts concerning the decision to declare Impasse below.
- An agreed upon plan was to be submitted to the Department of Education by October 1, 2020. An extension has been filed.
- Despite several attempts, proposals between the two parties are still far apart.
- To continue to delay will negatively impact all employees including instructional personnel.
- Despite several attempts by the district to secure future dates at the last bargaining session, VUE could not commit to returning to the table before November 30th and indicated that the months of November and December would be very difficult for them to schedule.
- Impasse will bring a resolution in a timely fashion and ensure teachers receive raises and retroactive payment before the next cycle of negotiations.
What's At Stake? Teacher Salary Allocation Background
The Florida Legislature allocated $10 million dollars to Volusia County Schools to raise the minimum teacher salary. These funds cannot be released until a plan has been presented to and approved by the Department of Education. Per legislation, 80% of the allocation must be used to bring the classroom teacher minimum salary as close to $47,500 as possible while the remaining 20% can be used to make salary adjustments for all teachers. The task at hand is to determine the most equitable way to distribute these funds within the parameters of what the legislation requires and what will be approved by DOE. The purpose of these funds was specifically to raise the minimum teacher salary. Volusia County Schools will continue to implement the previously agreed upon longevity bonus structure and regular negotiation cycles that begin in the spring for all instructional personnel. The longevity bonus pays teachers with 11 years or more an annual amount of up to $1500.
The district’s last proposal included supplementing the allocation with $250,000 from the general fund and distributing in the following manner:
- All instructional personnel including those not identified in legislation would receive a minimum salary of $44,335.
- All instructional personnel whose current salary is $44,335 or less will receive a minimum of a 2% increase in salary using the 20% allocation.
- All other full-time instructional personnel, including pre-k teachers, with a base salary greater than $44,335 will receive an increase to their current base salary using the 20% allocation in the following manner:
- $44,336-$45,205 - Goes to $45,205
- $45,206-$52,000 - 1.3%
- $52,001-55,000 - 1.75%
- > $55,000 - 2.0%
- A declaration of Impasse does not mean that the two parties cannot continue to talk. It does expedite the timeline so that a plan can be submitted to the Department of Education for approval. This will allow the School Board to get the Teacher Salary Allocation into the hands of our teachers as soon as possible.
- Should VUE wish to engage in productive and reasonable bargaining sessions at any time, the district is ready, willing and able to convene.
- Both parties are prohibited from discussing the issue further with the School Board to prevent any influence as they may be tasked with making the final decision.
- The first phase may include a hearing with a Special Magistrate who will review all of the information including the district finances and make a recommendation to the School Board.
- A hearing before the School Board will then be scheduled, and the School Board will adopt a plan to be submitted to the Department of Education for final approval regarding the distribution of funds.
- The School Board recommendation will be submitted to the Department of Education for final approval and release of funds for distribution.
The district’s bargaining team is committed to finding a solution that is the most equitable for our teachers and is within the directives of the legislative mandate. At the end of the day, the team must consider three things:
- What is best for our students?
- What is best for our teachers?
- What can we afford?
As we move forward, it is our sincere hope that we can work together professionally to make the best decisions possible for those who impact our students every day. Should you have any questions regarding this communication, please email Rachel Hazel, Director of Human Resources at email@example.com.