BDS and BESPA negotiate support employee raises

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 10:40 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It’s that time of the year again when Bay District Schools is in the process of negotiating salaries and other contract issues ahead of the upcoming school year. This time, for their support employees including paraprofessionals, bus drivers, and maintenance crews.

District officials and the Bay Educational Support Personnel Association (BESPA) spent much of Monday evening trying to strike a deal for support employee pay.

“This is our proposal that we believe gives the most amount of money to the highest number of people.” District Communications Director Sharon Michalik said.

Money from the state that will go towards giving every support employee a raise.

“We believe we have about $4.3 million to do raises, period. That has to cover for everybody,” said Michalik.

In this year’s state budget, all state employees will have a $15 minimum wage, which includes school district personnel.

“But there’s just X amount of money coming from the state to make this happen. So the bulk of the money is going to bring people up to $15, and then the rest of the money is available for the people above $15,” said Michalik.

Michalik said about 78% of their support employees currently make less than $15 an hour.

“If you’re making $11 an hour, you’re going to $15. If you’re making $14 an hour, you’re going to $15,” said Michalik.

Michalik said there’s a formula the district proposed to increase everyone’s salaries after that.

“Everyone is getting the 5% on your first $15, then 4%, then 3%, and then 2%, everyone has a chance to get a fairly substantial raise out of that. Then the people who still don’t get to $15 will get bumped up,” said Michalik.

But BESPA President Carol Croon said they have a big concern with this.

“You got these seasoned workers who have been working for a while and they will be making the same amount as the newcomers just coming in the door,” said Croone.

But Michalik said the district still feels good about their proposal.

“We did the numbers on people across the pay scale and the least amount of raise across the pay scale is 4.62% which actually is the largest raise that BESPA employees have received in recent history,” said Michalik.

The union did not come back with a counter-proposal for the district on Monday, but negotiations continue until next month’s meeting. District officials tell us the next union negotiation meeting will be held on June 6th. If they don’t agree then, negotiations continue into the next month.

Michalik said there’s a different union to negotiate on behalf of teachers.

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