Miami-Dade County Public Schools and United Teachers of Dade reached a tentative labor agreement on Wednesday that increases pay, keeps health costs stable and rewards teachers who are highly-rated or work at struggling schools.
“It’s a very big relief for our professionals because they can go take their summer off knowing what they will be making for the next school year,” said UTD President Karla Hernandez-Mats.
Notably, the proposal includes a raise for teachers who earn a “highly effective” or “effective” rating on their evaluations. They would get 3.57 percent and 2.67 percent more, respectively.
Performance pay is a requirement under state law, but a group of Miami-Dade teachers recently threatened to sue the district because they say they haven’t seen the extra money. They also claim the district has illegally changed the way tenured teachers are paid.
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“No matter what they do going forward, they have cheated us in the past,” said Shawn Beightol, a chemistry teacher who signed on to the potential class action lawsuit. “I don’t think there’s anything to celebrate here.”
Under the agreement, teachers with tenure would get a raise of more than three percent, according to the school district. Teachers at schools with high poverty or low grades on the state’s report card would make an extra $100 to $500.
Hernandez-Mats and the school district noted that the increase in pay and benefits is far above the 1 percent increase allocated by the Florida Legislature.
“Despite limited state funding and continued economic challenges, which significantly impact school district resources, we have been able to prioritize spending and negotiate a compensation package that honors teachers’ commitment and professionalism. We are proud,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a statement.
The district will also absorb a 1 percent increase in healthcare costs, saving teachers $35 million. Clerical staff and security guards will also get a boost. Whereas many made minimum wage, now no one will make less than $10, according to the proposal.
“We care about our support staff,” Hernandez-Mats said. “We’re trying to dignify them with proper salaries, and of course we’re trying to improve the economy of our community.”
This is the second contract – and salary increase – negotiated by UTD and the district in less than a year. The current contract is valid through 2017, but has proven unpopular. Almost 40 percent of teachers and school staff voted against it.
A vote on the newly-proposed contract is expected to be held on June 2.