HCTA Bargaining Update - 8/25/21

Wednesday evening, HCTA and HUSW bargaining teams met with the District to begin active discussion around the millage funds. While we had certainly hoped that the bargain around a win like the successful passage of the local referendum would be an opportunity for a truly collaborative conversation, the parties failed to reach agreement on the first step of the bargain—determining the distribution of the funds into each employee constituency (HCTA, HUSW, Confidential, Professional Technical, and Admin).

HCTA cited district-created promotional material, including direct quotes from the Superintendent and School Board members, to advocate that the ‘bulk of funds’ available for salaries should go to teachers. HCTA suggested, for a second time, that referendum dollars be divided among the units in the same percentage as the general payroll. Essentially, this would honor the repeated messaging of the district’s intent to use the referendum to ‘Keep Quality Teachers’ while improving each unit by the same overall percentage.

The district’s final proposal of the evening suggested that the funds initially be split 90/10 between the represented units and non-represented units. This would reserve 90% of the referendum salary improvement dollars to be bargained by HCTA and HUSW, while allowing the district to determine how the remaining 10% would be distributed to confidential, professional technical, and administrative employees. The parties suspended negotiations for the evening with an agreement to resume the joint bargaining of millage funds after HCTA and the district have addressed this year’s Teacher Salary Increase Allocation.

It is anticipated that the negotiation of TSIA for instructional raises will be the primary focus of bargaining sessions through the month of September. Districts are required to report TSIA distribution plans by Oct 1st.  Please stay alert for updates and possible calls for action from HCTA.

Ask HCSB to Support Relief Payments for ALL Instructional Staff

Now that the FLDOE is beginning to issue guidance regarding the $1000 relief payments from the state for classroom teachers and principals, we need to make sure that none of our instructional colleagues are left out!  Our non-classroom instructional staff were vital to the safe and successful return to learning for students in Hernando Schools. The failure of state-level leaders to recognize that is discouraging, but it doesn't have to be divisive!

What We Know About Bonuses

As you know, the state budget that was recently passed includes an allocation of around $215 million, to provide full-time classroom teachers and principals with a $1,000 bonus, using funds from the American Relief Plan.

In April and May, Governor DeSantis highlighted this bonus quite a bit, but his sense of urgency seems to have faded, and many are left wondering when they can expect to receive a bonus. Almost a month after signing the budget into law, the details of when and how bonuses are to be paid to educators remain unclear.

For too many of our colleagues, a ‘thanks for a job well-done’ bonus after the stress and uncertainty of working through the pandemic may not materialize at all. As was true with Best and Brightest bonuses, the non-classroom teachers (school counselors, psychologists, media specialists, etc.) will not qualify for these bonuses from the state.

HCTA brought a proposal for bonuses to the bargaining table in early June hoping to secure acommit ment from the District to provide matching bonuses for instructional staff left out of the state plan. We know that every educator working in Hernando schools through the past year helped to ensure our students were safe and that learning continued. It is our position that as federal COVID relief funds make their way into the District, nonrecurring dollars will be available to cover the cost of one-time bonuses. We await a response from the District.

Beyond knowing who will be receiving bonuses and when, we know that you have questions about these bonuses. It remains unclear whether bonuses will be paid to individuals who retired or separated from employment during or after the 2020-21 school year. It is also not yet known whether bonus checks will be issued directly from the state, or if the District will be tasked with distribution of funds. What we know is true of bonuses (generally speaking):

  • Bonuses are taxable at a higher rate than regular income.
  • The recipient will be responsible for taxes on the bonus.
  • Bonuses do NOT count toward retirement under FRS. 

We encourage you to follow the progress of negotiations online and look for additional updates from HCTA in the weeks ahead. Be sure to reach out to our friends on the school board to ask if ALL instructional staff will see bonuses this year.

RESOURCES:

FEA has added a list of FAQs on their website. The page will be updated as more information is made available.

Advocacy Issue Update: Testing & Accountability

BROOKSVILLE, FL -- April 12, 2021    In a letter issued by the US Department of Education in February, states were advised that they would have flexibility in determining how to apply the results of this year's standardized tests. Since then, districts have been awaiting clarification from Tallahassee regarding what--if any--accountability components might be waived. That clarification arrived late last week when the Commissioner of Education for the state of Florida issued an Emergency Order waiving accountability standards tied to standardized tests.  Read the order here:

Should Hernando's Superintendent of Schools Be Elected?

BROOKSVILLE, FL -- March 29, 2020    As the top administrator for the school district, the Superintendent is in the position to oversee day-to-day operations of our schools, direct the implementation of programs, make recommendations for staffing changes, and enforce Board policies.

HCTA Bargaining Update - 11/9/2020

This week, HCTA and District bargaining teams reached tentative agreement on Instructional salaries for 2020-21. The agreement combines the state’s Teacher Salary Increase Allocation (TSIA) with additional Board dollars to offer:

  • $46,120 minimum salary (impacting 48% of all instructional salaries)
  • Additional funds provided by the Board to ensure ALL instructional remain on the same salary schedule
  • At LEAST a 2% improvement to every teacher’s base salary
  • Salary improvements will be retroactive to July 1, 2020
  • Adjusted instructional placement schedule to ensure new hires with experience are not placed at higher salary levels than current employees with equal or greater experience

The settlement concludes a months long bargaining conversation complicated by scarcity of district funds and the statutory requirements of the TSIA. Challenges associated with the TSIA funds include:

  • Creation of salary compression in raising the minimum base salary
  • Requirements and funding for minimum base salary applying only to full-time classroom teachers, leaving out other instructional staff like School Counselors and Instructional Coaches

As other districts’ distribution plans were rejected by the FLDOE for failure to comply with statute, it became apparent that HCTA’s efforts to minimize salary compression with a ‘banded’ approach to distribution may have resulted in the state withholding funds. In absence of significant additional District funds, resolving the issue of compression became unlikely.

As a result, the bargaining team presented a proposal that sought to address our other two primary goals: maintain a single salary schedule for all instructional employees and ensure that salary improvements help offset insurance increases. The additional Board dollars included in the final agreement addressed these priorities. Ultimately, HCTA was able to improve upon the District’s initial salary improvement offer of a flat $668 minimum increase to a full 2% while also ensuring that non-classroom teachers would not be left behind on a lower salary schedule. The adjusted instructional placement schedule will ensure that new hires will not come into the District at a higher pay level than current employees with the same years of experience.

 

It is worth noting that the HCTA proposal also sought a significant increase ($45/month/member) in the Board’s health insurance contribution. As the benefits offered to instructional staff cannot differ from the benefits offered to other employees, the increased contribution would have required an additional $1.5 million from the Board. Citing the uncertainty of current year funding due to lower than expected student enrollment, the District was unable to commit to the additional dollars needed.

The teams also discussed the impact of the recently approved millage increase. The increase will take effect in the 2021 property tax rolls, with these new local dollars available for bargaining in the 2021-22 school year. The District acknowledged at the table the Superintendent and Board’s intent for the majority of funds raised for staff salaries to be applied to instructional salaries. The parties will continue meeting in the months ahead to plan for the distribution of referendum dollars.