Bay District Schools and teachers union reach agreement on teacher salaries

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - "Wear Red for Ed" was the Bay County Teachers Union's motto for Monday night's bargaining session, and district teachers certainly showed up prepared.

After months of negotiations, the union and the Bay District Schools bargaining team finally came to a resolution. (WJHG/WECP)

After months of negotiations, the union and the Bay District Schools bargaining team finally came to a resolution.

"This is the first time we've had an agreement that covered a two year period," said the President of the Association of Bay County Educators Alexis Underwood. "So, over the two year period, we're very happy with the raise that we've been able to negotiate, we're happy with the bonus. For the first time, we've been able to ensure that every teacher in Bay County, even someone who just started working with us this year, is going to be able to get a bonus."

If ratified by the union and approved by the school board, teachers will receive a three percent raise this school year and next year, something the union says is a great start for our teachers.

"This was a great step in that direction, and we hope that teachers, whether they're members of the union or not, recognize that this process was successful. We didn't get everything we wanted, we never do, the district didn't get everything they wanted, they never do, that's why we bargain," said Underwood.

The union had originally asked for five percent for this school year and four percent for next year, but the district countered, many times.

"The bottom line is, our base student allocation, which is our funding, only went up 1.79 percent, so we were very glad to be able to offer that three percent, and the additional reassurance of at least three percent next year," said Director of Communications for Bay District Schools Sharon Michalik.

The district says they wish they could offer more, but overall, one word was on everyone's minds.

"Relieved!" exclaimed Underwood while laughing.

"It's a great relief to have it settled. I think that at the end of a situation like this, no one comes out the winner," said Michalik.

If approved by the board, first year teachers will receive a $1,000 bonus while all other teachers will receive a $1,500 bonus, all before Thanksgiving. A $500 bonus was also approved for ESE Pre-K teachers.

Both sides already agreed to keeping health insurance premiums at the same rate in a previous meeting.

The district issued a statement regarding the agreement, saying:

"After several months of negotiations, Bay District Schools and the Association of Bay County Educators (ABCE) have tentatively settled this year’s contract negotiations with a three percent raise for teachers this year, a three percent raise for next year and one-time bonuses of $500-$1500 (depending on employment status).
Additionally, the district and union settled on an extra day of bereavement leave (from one day to two days) and three non-student days for Professional Learning Communities to meet for data disaggregation and standards-based planning for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 school years.
The district team was pleased to wrap up this year’s bargaining and noted that the three percent increase was driven in large part by the limits of a 1.79 percent increase in the base student allocation (district’s base funding from the state). “We know this has been an incredibly difficult year for our teachers and we sincerely appreciate all they do for our students,” explained District Director of Communications Sharon Michalik. “If the state had allocated more money for teacher raises, the School Board would certainly have liked to have offered more,” added Michalik who serves as a member of the district’s bargaining team.
It was important to both sides to try to wrap up negotiations this evening so that the contract proposal can be presented to union membership and board members in the next few days. If ratified by the union, and approved by the board, the contract goes into effect immediately and the district hopes to be able to distribute bonus checks before the holidays. The district meets with the Bay Educational Support Personnel Association (BESPA - the union for support employees) tomorrow [Tuesday]."

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