Miami-Dade schools

Miami-Dade, teachers union reach tentative deal on raises

Miami-Dade school teachers will all get a raise of at least $1,100, and most will have a chance to earn the $2,500 raise pledged by Gov. Rick Scott this year under a tentative deal struck Monday by the school district and the United Teachers of Dade.

The two sides came to terms on an agreement to amend key portions of the union’s contract, including the schedule that establishes teachers’ pay and healthcare. They also divvied up most the millions set aside for district employee raises by the state.

The terms of the $70 million deal, which boosts salaries by 6.5 percent, is retroactive to Friday but won’t be final until union members ratify the contract and the school board approves the deal. Key aspects include:

• Raises around $1,300 for the majority of the district’s 21,000-plus teachers, with some more-senior educators receiving up to $6,000 increases in salary

• Performance bonuses between $1,000 and $4,000 that the district and union say will be spread out to more teachers this year, boosting most raises to roughly $2,500 or more

• Starting salary for a rookie teacher increases by $500 to $40,500, and the top salary for a teacher increases by $1,100 to more than $70,000

• Raises of 2.3 percent, plus a one-time $331 payment for close to 5,000 additional members of the union, such as paraprofessionals, security monitors and secretaries

• Healthcare that remains free for district employees and dependent coverage that remains subsidized

“This is a real step forward for our teachers in Miami-Dade County. It’s something we can be proud of,” said union president Fedrick Ingram. “It’s time to pay those folks who do the hard work.”

The agreement likely ends months of negotiations held amid expectations of $2,500 for every teacher created by Scott’s pledge of raises nearly a year ago. His proposal was backed by a $480 million investment by the Florida Legislature. Miami-Dade received about $63 million from that pot.

District and union leaders, however, warned over recent months that the money wouldn’t be enough to fund what Scott had promised, particularly after the legislature made other district employees eligible for the dollars. The school district also had to give roughly $10 million to charter schools, leaving about $53 million for teachers and thousands of other employees.

But on Monday, union negotiators agreed to accept a proposal to set aside $50 million in state raise dollars, mostly for teachers. They also agreed to include $20 million in performance-based bonuses, the last of the district’s federal Race to the Top performance funds. Only with that money included will most teachers earn $2,500 or more this year, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said.

“I think this contract honors everybody,” he said. “We not only met but exceeded a promise that was made by Tallahassee but was not fully funded.”

The deal also brings about crucial changes to the “step” schedule for teachers. The new schedule also lowered the highest raises given to the most veteran teachers, which under new state law will dictate what the district’s highest-performing teachers in a new performance pay system receive as an annual raise starting next year. Teachers whose raises were reduced are receiving one-time payments to compensate.

A one-day union ratification vote is set for Oct. 30.

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