Broward reaches tentative $62 million contract deal with teachers

After months of sometimes-tense negotiations, the Broward School district has reached a tentative contract deal with its teachers union. It’s a three-year agreement that awards nearly $62 million in raises to teachers.

Much of those salary increases are funded by $47 million in state dollars — specifically earmarked for teacher raises — that the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott approved for Broward earlier this year. Broward’s share was part of a larger $480 million statewide pot of money set aside for teacher raises.

Miami-Dade’s school district announced a $70 million agreement with its teachers earlier this week.

Broward’s new contract deal, which must still be approved by Broward Teachers Union members and the School Board, provides an average salary increase of roughly five percent this year. In actual dollars, that translates to an average raise amount of roughly $2,000.

The agreement also settles a contentious issue for Broward: how to pay high school teachers a debt of more than $20 million stemming from class schedules that were altered last year. In order to reduce class sizes, Superintendent Robert Runcie forced high schools to adopt a uniform seven-period class schedule last year. The teachers union protested the change, which added a class, and therefore additional workload, for many teachers.

The dispute ended up in arbitration, where the union won. That arbitration ruling forced Broward to award back pay to its high school teachers who were forced to teach an additional class. According to the contract deal announced Friday, Broward will pay that $20 million-plus debt over five years.

In negotiating that time frame, BTU President Sharon Glickman said the union had to work within the district’s tight budget picture — with a five-year payoff, the debt gets paid without busting Broward’s budget, she said.

“I would have liked less, and I tried for less,” Glickman said of the five-year timeline.

Going forward, high school teachers this year who are forced to teach a sixth class will receive an additional payment of $2,000. Those who choose to teach a seventh class will get paid $6,000 for that additional responsibility. Teachers will also be given more input into the selection of high school schedules in the future.

In a press conference where he was flanked by union reps and School Board members, Runcie praised the agreement as “a win for our teachers, our students, and our community.”