BDS and teachers’ union can’t agree on teacher salaries

Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 8:40 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2022 at 3:22 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - How much should teachers make? The answer to that question is what Bay District Schools and the Association of Bay County Educators are far from agreeing on.

A dedicated teacher deserves every dime. There was never a question about that. But BDS is once again at the bargaining table with the teachers union, and there is only a set amount of money to work with.

“The big sticking point right now is about how much money the lower-end teachers should receive out of the pot of money versus those at the higher end,” Sharon Michalik, Director of Communication for Bay District Schools, said. “Right now the union’s proposal, they are asking for $7 million in salary increases for their union members and the district’s proposal is $2.6 million so there’s quite a ways apart.”

Governor Ron DeSantis has set a $47,500 minimum teacher salary goal in Florida. Since this mandate, Bay District Schools has been pushing every year to increase the minimum starting salary. Right now, it stands at just over $45,600 for a Bay District teacher. Board Member Steve Moss says they are mandated to use the bulk of the funding they receive from the state to get to that $47,500 benchmark. He’s optimistic that will happen during this year’s negotiations, and then he says the district can have more leeway to give to veteran teachers. Moss says once the district reaches the $47,500 benchmark, they won’t have as many restrictions as to how those funds can be used in the future.

For those who have been teaching for decades, the district is recommending a 4.4% increase. The union disagrees, saying it should be 7% seeing that the newer employees have already had significant changes to their paychecks.

“4.4% is not enough to keep our veteran, experienced teachers in the building. You’ve done a great job for the new teachers, a wonderful job for the new teachers, and they are making a significantly higher wage than they were three years ago, 32% higher in some cases,” Alexis Underwood, Chair of the Association of Bay County Educators, said. “From where I’m standing as a veteran teacher, 32% looks pretty fine. If the district was even willing to give me double digits, I’d be doing the dance of joy.”

But the final decision is up to the school board.

This is just one of many things up for debate. There’s an entire list of items being negotiated still, including how to handle a disruptive student in the classroom. Those negotiations will continue on November 15th.

Bay district teachers are holding a rally in support of the teachers union. It will be this Wednesday, November 9th, at 3:30 p.m. in the Panama City Mall parking lot. More information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ABCEteach/.

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