Walton County Teachers and District Declare Impasse

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After months of negotiations, and renegotiations, Walton County teachers and the school district failed to reach an agreement Monday night about allocating money Governor Rick Scott designated as teacher bonuses.

The problems began when school board members decided to give non-instructional employees some of the money.

Those workers approved the deal, but teachers rejected it.

They demanded the school district make up that difference.

School District negotiators said they could only give the teachers an extra $150,000.

But the teachers say that doesn't cut it.

"The proposal was, we wanted a three percent pay increase on every level based on your experience,” said Chris Mayer, a Teacher at Emerald Coast Middle School. “The district said they didn't have the money to meet that and we went through it and we found through budget proposals that they did have the money."

Close to $2.3 million, in fact.

Without an agreement, the two sides declared an impasse and will take the argument to a special magistrate.

But that takes time.

"If it goes to a special magistrate, it takes six months, it still goes back to the school board, will make that final decision--and by that time that money will be gone,” said the Districts negotiator.

If the district does not come up with a plan by June 1st, the State will reclaim the money.

In the end, all the teachers want is a raise, something they say they haven't had in almost seven years.

"The ESP raises have nothing to do with us, we are happy they are getting a raise we are really glad,” said Leigh Glenn, another teacher in Walton County. “They deserve one, and so do we."

Both district officials and teachers say they will move the process along as quickly as possible.