It took just a little over two weeks for the Brevard County School District and the Brevard Federation of Teachers to reach a deal on teacher pay.
On Tuesday night at union headquarters in Rockledge, district and union negotiators agreed on a $2,000 raise for teachers rated "highly effective" on their yearly evaluations and $1,500 for teachers rated "effective," plus a $1,200 recurring "longevity" supplement for teachers beginning in their 12th year with the district, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
The base raise for highly effective teachers equates to a 4.1% bump for those making the district's average salary of $48,635, according to district officials. For highly-rated veteran teachers, that jumps to 6.6%.
It's Brevard teachers' biggest raise since 2015 and the biggest for veteran teachers since before the recession.
Officials on both sides were pleased with the deal, which union President Anthony Colucci and the district's chief negotiator Karyle Green sealed with a handshake and a hug.
"I feel really good. I think my team feels excellent," Green said. "I appreciate the union's willingness to work with us. Great discussion at the table. We look forward to finalizing everything."
"I think our teachers have been sticking together for a year demanding for fair pay and I think tonight we've taken a big step in the right direction," Colucci said. "The board heard our concerns. We had a good discussion at the table and ... an offer that I'm going to feel good about bringing to our teachers to vote on."
The deal represented a significant compromise from both sides, with the union coming down from its initial proposal of $2,300 raises and a $2,000 supplement. The district, for its part, ditched its plan for a true percentage-based raise and more than doubled its own supplement offer.
One sticking point at the table was the amount of money the district had available. Union officials argued 389 of the district's 4,849 teaching positions were paid for out of Title I dollars or grant-style funding, freeing up an additional $1 million in the general fund from which raises are paid.
"I think they have a little bit more to give," said union Treasurer Kyle Savage after the session. "But I also think there's a lot to say for working collaboratively and trying to move forward."
"So far it's been a much better process than last year. I don't think anybody wants to end up at impasse again," he added.
"It's hard to convince the public or the board that there is a cushion or how much of a cushion. It's hard to come to agreement on what that cushion looks like. So I have a stomachache," Green said with a laugh. "But we're really excited."
Colucci stressed that much more work remained to assuage the pay gap for veteran teachers, who in recent years have seen their salaries fall further behind colleagues in other counties.
"It's not a solution. We have not solved the problem, but we've taken a step to at least get them an extra $100 a month to make up for all those years of pay freezes and missteps," Colucci said.
Four years of freezes between 2008 and 2012 along with the statewide elimination of step raises in 2011 and a history of flat dollar pay bumps have driven down wages for veteran educators relative to newer teachers in a phenomenon called the "wage compression gap."
Negotiators will return to the table Thursday to discuss a number of outstanding proposals on teacher work conditions.
Teacher raises through the years:
- 2018: 2.3%
- 2017: 1.5%
- 2016: 1.3%
- 2015: 5.1%
- 2014: 2.1%
- 2013: 4.5%
- 2012: No raise; 1% one-time bonus
- 2011: 2.7%
- 2008-2010: No raise