VCS Answers Additional Questions About the Impasse

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DELAND – On Tuesday, November 17, the Volusia County School District announced its decision to declare impasse with the Volusia United Educators (VUE) regarding the Teacher Salary Allocation. If we are to continue to move forward as a district, we must continue to have clear communication and answer the tough questions.

We want to thank our teachers and staff for reading the information sent out and reaching out with questions. Please keep sending your questions and comments as they help us provide transparent and accurate information. We welcome professional and meaningful dialogue. Although we will respond to anyone who emails personally, we feel it is important to share with everyone the answers to those questions most frequently asked. Below, you will find answers to questions that were sent in via email and social media. If you have further questions, you are encouraged to email Rachel Hazel, Director of Human Resources, at rbhazel@volusia.k12.fl.us.

When it says things will be expedited, does that mean teachers can expect to see their salary increase and retro pay in one of the December paychecks in time for Christmas? Or do you have a timeframe of when we can expect to see that increase now that impasse has been declared?

Unfortunately, we cannot give you a definitive timeline. When the legislature allocated money to raise the minimum teacher salary, they also included language that required districts to negotiate with their respective unions, submit a plan to their respective School Boards for review, and then have that plan approved by DOE. The original deadline to submit a plan to DOE was October 1, 2020. Volusia County Schools has already submitted an extension request which was approved due to reopening negotiations and the start date of these negotiations. Impasse does not prevent us from continuing negotiations, but it does guarantee that certain steps take place in a timely fashion. The following steps must occur:

  1. A hearing before a special magistrate
  2. A hearing before the School Board, which will make a recommendation to send to the Department of Education
  3. Approval of the plan from the Department of Education
  4. Release of the funds to the district
  5. Distribution of funds to instructional staff

All of these steps take time. We can and will continue to negotiate. Our next session is scheduled for November 30. Should we reach a resolution at that session, steps 1 and 2 would not be necessary. The board could then approve our plan and send to the Department of Education for final approval. It is to goal of the Superintendent and district to get the money in the hands of our instructional staff as soon as possible. It is unlikely that all of this could occur before Winter Break, however, the timeline really depends on the outcome of each step in the process.

I would like to know are there any negotiations concerning raises for the non-bargaining nurses to include the LPNs and RNs?

Non bargaining employees do not negotiate for salaries; however, the School Board does consider raises for all employees. Please see the chart below for information concerning pay increases for all employees.

Employee Type Status Timeline
VUE Instructional

Pending the outcome of Impasse

*Longevity supplement for the 20--21 school year will be processed after winter break

Until negotiations and impasse are settled and the plan is approved by DOE, funds will not be distributed by Department of Education to the district.
VUE Support 2.5% raise was voted on and approved at the November 10 board meeting. This was negotiated with the 3 year deal in the previous contract. Raise will be in the checks before Winter Break and retro will follow.
AFSCME 3% raise was voted on and approved at the November 10 board meeting. AFSCME did get a 3% raise rather than a 2.5% raise but in 19-20 their raise was only retroactive for ½ of the year equaling 1.5%. Raise will be in the checks before Winter Break and retro will follow.
Non Bargaining Employee (level 1-8) and Technical Support Personnel including EDEP and Before the Bell Employees An average 2.5% raise consisting of one step an spreading the remainder over the salary schedule will be presented to the board for approval on December 8. If approved by the board, raise will be in the checks before Winter Break and retro will follow.
Non Bargaining Employee (level 9 and above) and school based administrators A raise will be presented to the board at a future meeting To Be Determined

I am a first-year Support Facilitator with VCS and struggle to understand if my salary will be raised. We as support facilitators consider ourselves teachers, but I did not know if the district/legislation saw it that way when allocating funds. Will Support Facilitators be offered the salary supplement? Or just classroom teachers?

You are correct regarding the way the legislation was written; however, the district proposal includes all instructional personnel. So, yes, you would be offered the increased salary.

I was wondering when we are going to get the $500 we were told we were going to get for teaching "Live" and B&M at the same time. I thought we were supposed to get $500 for the first nine weeks and second nine weeks.

Those who have been verified by their school sites as teaching both “Live” and Brick and Mortar simultaneously will receive payment prior to Winter Break.

In reference to the previous statement, “I am VUE Support or AFSCME. Does this mean I don’t get a raise? VUE Support and AFSCME salary increases and retroactive payments were approved by the School Board at the last meeting. Raises will be in the checks prior to Winter Break and retro payment will follow. These negotiations have no implications for our VUE Support or AFSCME staff,” does this refer to office specialists? I asked my union rep here on campus and she said that the district did not approve increases. I am confused?! Could you please clarify?

VUE Support staff does include Office Specialists and Paraprofessionals. Both will receive their raise prior to Winter Break, and the retroactive payment will follow.

This Q&A is quite skewed. First, the union requested to bargain in March. Had the district not delayed, maybe the negotiations would be over.

This timeline is inaccurate. The budget was not determined in March 2020. In the spring of 2020, the district and VUE met to agree on a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the Instructional Continuity Plan. That Memorandum was agreed upon, signed and implemented. There were no formal negotiations or ratification of that Memorandum of Understanding. In an email dated June 25, 2020, sent to Debra Muller, Chief Financial Officer at 5:30 p.m., Elizabeth Albert, President of Volusia United Educators, asked for information regarding instructional personnel as VUE had “started to dig into the budget now that the Governor has signed the teacher salary law.” She then requested a time to meet informally about the budget – not to begin negotiations. VUE then sent the district a “Notice to Bargain” regarding the reopening plan on July 13, 2020. Those negotiations began on July 23, 2020, and continued until the Impasse Hearing held on September 17, 2020. Both parties agreed to ask for an extension and delay negotiations for the Teacher Salary Allocation until after the reopening negotiations were concluded. Teacher Salary negotiations began on October 6, 2020, at the VUE building. There was no delay or request to bargain this topic in March 2020.

I wonder if VCS hired the Admin Social Media person? They certainly have put a lot of effort into fighting with their teachers and staff.

This question is referring to the previously advertised Specialist position in the Community Information Department. At this time, no one has been hired for that position. We are reviewing applications and conducting interviews. While social media is a large part of this job, it is not the only duty assigned to this role. In fact, there are 15 responsibilities formally listed in the job description. The decision to have this position focus on social media was due to the desire to provide all stakeholders with consistent and factual information using a platform that is easily accessible to all. It is important that as a school system, our communication structures evolve with society and social norms. Social media is a platform utilized by the majority of our stakeholders to obtain information. We want to continually evaluate our means of communication and respond to those who have pointed to communication as an area of growth for our school system. Redirecting resources toward social media as a means of communication will help.

There is no intent to “fight” with teachers and staff. We do not consider ourselves at odds. In fact, we consider ourselves as part of one team that is working together to solve problems. There are few times that problems are solved with only one idea. We welcome open, honest, and professional dialogue and feedback. Fighting hurts our most important stakeholders, the students. We believe that our teachers deserve access to all of the information so that they can provide feedback that will lead to productive solutions. We can agree that historically, the district has not sent out detailed information regarding bargaining to all staff. Recognizing that not all will be able to watch hours of video to gather information, this is intended to provide factual data and empower our employees to consider all of the information.

VCS is hemorrhaging employees! What is the comparison from year to year?

Below is a comparison of separations from year to year. There are considerations to be made when looking at this data:

  • Volusia County Schools employs a total of 8,511 people
  • The 2020-2021 data is July 2020 to present. Separations occur throughout the year, so a true total can’t be determined until July 2021. However, you can see the percentage comparison.
  • Every day, employees on a Leave of Absence are returning. These numbers (like most things in 2020) are fluid.
  • A retirement incentive was offered for those retiring between July 2020 and November 3, 2020. This was not offered in previous years. his was an item that VUE requested during negotiations. It is reasonable to assume that there would be more people retire in a year that an incentive is offered.
  • The Human Resources Personnel documents that can be viewed on Board Docs have run behind in the past. With a change in leadership, there were several weeks presented at one time. The dates of separation should be used to calculate the data.
  • We can all agree that 2020 is not a “normal” year and that there is no industry immune to the effects of COVID on the availability of their workforce. While in some areas, the percentages may be higher, hemorrhaging is not an accurate description.

VCS Separations Comparison

Separation Reason 2014-2015 SY 2018-2019 SY 2019-2020 SY 2020-2021 SY*
Resigned/Terminated 195 (2%) 235 (2.7%) 210 (2.4%) 53 (0.6%)
Retired 316 (3.7%) 284 (3.3%) 283 (3.3%) 147 (1.7%)
Leave of Absence 131 (1%) 142 (1.6%) 129 (1.5%) 415 (4.8%)
Total 642 (7.5%) 661 (7.7%) 622 (7.3%) 615 (7.2%)

*Of the 147 retired employees, 79 were a part of the retirement incentive.

I am asking for clarification regarding the statement, “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.”

It is the law that the "insulated period" begins after (1) the special magistrate's recommendation has been rejected or (2) the legislative body and the union agree in writing to waive the special magistrate and have the impassed item go directly to the legislative body (in this case the School Board) for determination. The insulated period is that period in which the union and the staff can have no contact whatsoever with the SB relating to the impassed items. The statement cited above speaks not to contact but to discussions. The union is prohibited from bargaining directly with the board – i.e., bypassing the superintendent – at any time, just as the administration is prohibited from bargaining directly with the members of the bargaining unit. So while the parties are not yet in the insulated period, a reminder that both parties are prohibited from directly dealing and should save it for the hearing is more than justified by the existing case law and was the intent of the statement.

Together, We Are Stronger