Teacher’s Union Cancels Talks After Brevard Public Schools Opens With 3.5% Raise Offer

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VIERA, Florida – Brevard Public Schools made its opening salary offer Tuesday to teachers represented by the Brevard Federation of Teachers.

The district expected to negotiate in good faith over the next several days on a significantly better pay raise for teachers in 2019-2020.

However, the BFT union leaders declined to negotiate Tuesday and said they were “done” for the week.

BPS’ initial proposal was a 3.5 percent raise in base pay for the roughly 90 percent of teachers rated “highly effective” (teachers rated “effective” would get 2.5 percent).

By comparison, the teachers’ union on Monday proposed a raise in base pay that would average about 4.8 percent.

“The proposed 3.5 percent increase would keep teacher pay ahead of the rising cost of living and help veteran BPS educators catch up with larger pay increases in actual dollars,” said BPS spokesperson Matt Reed.

BPS plans no increase in health insurance premiums for employees in 2019-2020.

For teachers at different salary levels, the 3.5 percent raise offered by BPS Tuesday would deliver the following raises in base pay:

$39,026 entry-level salary: $1,366 raise

$48,634 average teacher salary: $1,702 raise

$60,000 senior teacher salary: $2,100 raise

The district’s proposed salary increase – by a percentage, not a dollar amount — represents a different approach than in years past.

District leaders believe it provides more equitable and competitive pay in the long run, particularly to teachers with the most years of service.

In contrast, a flat-amount raise for all delivers the lowest percentage increases to veteran teachers. The BPS proposal came in response to teachers’ feedback during last year’s negotiations.

BFT on Monday asked for raises of $2,300 for all teachers rated “highly effective” and $1,725 for all teachers rated “effective.”

Meanwhile, the district and BFT both have proposed separate salary increases for veteran teachers to help address salary “compression” caused by years of flat-rate performance raises.

On Tuesday, BPS initially offered a $550 additional pay raise for teachers actively employed by the district before July 1, 2007 while BFT asked for a $2,000 additional raise in its opening offer Monday.

“The BPS negotiating team remains prepared to continue with scheduled negotiations this week at Viera High School, Reed continued.

“However, it is unclear when the union will be willing to return,” Reed said. “The two sides had agreed to a week of accelerated, friendlier negotiations in the interest of delivering a solid pay raise to teachers sooner while avoiding the public conflict of 2018-2019.”

“Tonight, the School Board of Brevard County showed us the same song and dance of years past with the salary proposal they sent with their negotiating team,” BFT leadership stated in response.

“The superintendent gave us his word that he was dedicated to fixing the wage compression issue that we have in Brevard County; however, when the district’s team countered with a salary proposal, they reduced our $2000 recurring longevity supplement eligible for FRS to a $550 non-recurring supplement.”

“In order to take away from the fact that they offered less money, they used a distracting technique of offering a true percentage while not admitting that more than half of their workforce would not receive the amount listed in their examples,” BFT added.

“They are proposing a 3.5% for highly effective, and 2.5% for effective. On their high-end example, for highly effective teachers making $61,000, the raise would be $2135, and on their low-end example, highly effective teachers making $44,000, the raise would be $1540. OVER HALF THE TEACHERS IN OUR DISTRICT MAKE LESS THAN $44,000. $43,957 is the median salary in Brevard County.”

Before the abrupt end to talks, negotiating teams for BPS and BFT tentatively agreed Tuesday on contract terms meant to improve work conditions for those covered by the teachers’ contract. They include:

COUNSELOR PLANNING: Guidance counselors will be paid for eight uninterrupted hours of planning and preparation time before their schools’ pre-planning days begin.

‘NO MEETING ZONES:’ Three out of five weekly teacher-preparation times will be considered “no meeting zones” with the exception of meetings mandated by state or federal law or meetings scheduled at the teacher’s request.

EARLY-RELEASE FRIDAYS: No more than six early-release Fridays shall be used for site-based professional development at the discretion of the principal, with no more than three per semester.

SICK-LEAVE TRANSFER: A teacher may transfer up to eight hours of sick leave to another teacher who has exhausted his or her sick leave. The recipient must need at least five six days to participate and provide documentation, by the treating physician, of the illness, accident or injury.

TEACHER PROTECTION: If a teacher requests a conference with an administrator about a referred, non-ESE student, the teacher has the right to deny the entry of the referred student into his or her classroom for up to 45 minutes from the time of the incident.