Our students and community need strong, vibrant public schools. We know that teachers' voices can make the difference in ensuring that the resources are available to meet every student's individual needs. That's why we are shining a light on the achievements in our classrooms and the work and challenges associated with them. The narrative of Hernando's public schools belongs to all of us, and in order for the truth to be known, we need to be the ones telling our stories!
Fund Our Future, Hernando
As a statewide teacher shortage grows, our professional association is advocating for meaningful changes in state and local policies that directly impact our classrooms. Fund Our Future is an ongoing campaign to recruit and retain teachers, promote student success, and invest in our neighborhood public schools. Here in Hernando County we support local efforts to supplement state and federal funding to ensure competitive wages for educators, expand academic opportunities and increase career paths for students, and to provide the classrooms needed to support a rapidly expanding population. Together, we are proudly speaking up and speaking out for our neighborhood public schools -- and the students educated in them!
Red For Ed Wednesdays
Every Wednesday, HCTA joins teachers across the state of Florida in a visible show of support for our neighborhood public schools. We wear RED for Public Ed because we know all too well the compromises that have to be made --and the impact of those compromises on our students-- when funding for our schools is inadequate or bogged down in mandates. We wear red to call attention to the solvable problems in education. Recruiting and Retaining teachers can't be solved with flawed accountability systems. With 4,961 teacher vacancies in K12 classrooms across Florida at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, ballooning to 6,006 teacher vacancies at the start of 2022-2023, Florida schools aren't failing--FUNDING is FAILING Florida's schools!
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.
FEA has added a list of FAQs on their website. The page will be updated as more information is made available.
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:
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. The selection of the Superintendent of Schools is undeniably a matter of great importance to educators, and changes to how the position is to be filled must be considered with care.
Hernando's legislative delegation has set about promoting HB 1635--a bill which would place a referendum on the 2022 ballot asking
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.
HCTA Bargaining Update – 10/12/2020
On Monday, October 12th, the board and union teams met to continue discussions over the teacher salary allocation. HCTA offered a counter proposal to the district’s initial offer, in the hopes of reducing compression.
While the district’s proposal would push the vast majority of TSA funds to the very bottom of the pay schedule, HCTA‘s proposal seeks to create tiers within the bottom half of the pay schedule ensuring that TSA dollars are spread more equitably, establishing $45,500 as the new minimum salary, and achieving the aspirational goal of $47,500 for many. HCTA’s proposal also seeks to improve non-classroom teachers to the same levels as classroom teachers.￼￼￼￼ Finally, HCTA’s proposal requests that in addition to the TSA dollars, the school board provide a little less than a half million dollars to ensure all instructional staff receive at minimum a 2% increase this year￼
The district team expressed concern that the HCTA proposal may be rejected by the DOE or could be flagged during audit for applying a tiered/banded approach to the distribution of funds. Nevertheless, the district team agreed to take the proposal back for consideration with the understanding that HCTA clearly does not want non-classroom and classroom teachers on different pay schedules and is pushing to ensure salary improvements are not entirely negated by health insurance premium increases. It is anticipated that insurance increases will be again be necessary.
In addition, HCTA proposed an agreement which would reserve a proportionate amount of referendum dollars for instructional salaries and positions. Should the referendum pass, the actual distribution of salary dollars would be negotiated. Funds raised through a local referendum could provide flexible dollars needed to create more equitable salary improvements in future years. To learn more about the local referendum, please visit the Hernando Schools webpage.
No agreements were reached on Monday, but the teams anticipate returning to the bargaining table within days.
Late last week, HCTA and District bargaining teams met to discuss the Teacher Salary Increase Allocation. This pool of funds provided as a categorical in the state budget has prescribed application outlined in FL statute. To better understand the challenges we face in bargaining salary improvements, you are encouraged to visit the HTCA website to familiarize yourself with the Teacher Salary Increase Allocation (TSA).
As of Friday evening, both teams had shared initial proposals. A walk-through of the District’s proposal presented on Friday is provided here for your review:
HCSD Opening Proposal
HCTA Questions & Concerns
Takes 80% of the TSA dollars and raises the minimum base salary for full time classroom teachers to $46,120
676 full-time classroom teachers will be improved to the new minimum
COMPRESSION: Creates compression in the salary range, placing first-year teachers and mid-career teachers at the same pay level
Is $46,120 a sustainable entry-level salary?
When creating the placement schedule for new hires, will incoming teachers with years of experience be awarded credit that will put them at a higher pay level than our experienced current employees?
Distributes 20% of the TSA dollars to provide a $668 minimum adjustment for all instructional staff
Applies to full time classroom teachers who received less than $600 from the 80% adjustment, full time classroom teachers making more than $47,500, and non-classroom teachers
INEQUITY: Adjusting everyone below the new minimum to $46,120 means some will receive an increase of $4,663, while others receive only the $668 minimum
Is the minimum adjustment enough to offset the rising cost of health insurance premiums?
Does not provide additional Board contribution
Board policy requires that a 5% General Fund reserve be maintained
General Fund Balance reserve is reported at about 4.5% at this time
Because the TSA does not mandate minimum salary improvements to non-classroom teachers, absence of additional dollars may result in separate salary schedules with non-classroom positions starting below classroom positions
The TSA funds are both limited and restricted in use; without additional dollars to bargain instructional salary adjustments for those on the top half of the salary range will be nominal
Since the Teacher Salary Increase Allocation is tied to full time classroom teachers as defined in statute, non-classroom teachers do not qualify for 80% of the TSA funds. For the purpose of categorizing full-time classroom teachers, the District identified instructional staff who carry a roster of students and provide instruction for more than half of the workday.
Though HCTA’s team had previously shared what was believed to be a reasonable proposal which would have distributed the larger portion of TSA funds in a banded approach and produced a more equitable distribution of dollars across the salary roster, the District expressed concern that a banded approach could be rejected during audit and may result in TSA dollars being reclaimed by the state some time down the road.
HCTA does not believe that the law prohibits bargaining of a banded approach. Distributing 80% of the TSA funds in bands could not only raise the minimum base salary to a competitive level ($45,000), it could ensure that a significant number of teachers actually reach the statutory goal of $47,500 this year.