Agreement reached for Bay District Schools support staff wage increases

Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 8:51 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - All public school support employees have to make at least $15 an hour under new state law, including paraprofessionals, bus drivers, and maintenance crews. After months of negotiations, Bay District School Officials and The Bay Education Support Personnel Association (BESPA) have settled this year’s contract to meet that.

“We met this week. We’re pleased it came to a quick decision,” BESPA Executive Board Member Sean Brown said.

District CFO Jim Loyed tells us they received a little more than $4 million from the state.

“Spending about $3.9 million to raise all of those employees up to the $15 minimum wage,” said Loyed.

Loyed said out of the more than 1,200 support employees in the district, 78% were currently below the $15 mark.

“The range of increases will go from a little over 6%, to around 46%, but it averages out to about 18.9% for the entire group,” said Loyed.

To Brown, who is a district maintenance worker, this agreement means a lot.

“I’ve talked to quite a few employees and they are all very excited about getting a very nice raise. It’s really going to help out with the gas prices and everything going up from inflation. It’s really going to help out with a lot of that,” said Brown.

Brown said they’ve had a hard time filling positions in maintenance because of the low pay.

“There’s a lot of people hiring, there’s a lot of jobs out there, and a lot of jobs that are paying pretty good. It means a lot for our employees to be on par with surrounding jobs,” said Brown.

Loyed said while the new raises represent huge steps forward on the salary schedule for the lowest-paid employees, the money also generates much-needed increases for all support employees.

“That’s definitely the most substantial raise since I’ve been here for 24 years,” said Loyed. “The superintendent and board recognize the increase in housing costs, and just overall inflation, that all of our employees are having to deal with. So, they wanted to get this in the hands of the employees as quickly as possible. Assuming it gets ratified, and we know the board will approve it, then hopefully it will get in their hands in July rather than October.”

The contract must still be ratified by the union and approved by the school board. That is currently underway.

Loyed said there’s a different pot of money for teachers’ wages to get to the $47,500 goal.

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