Orange County teachers hit wall in salary discussion

Talks may be turned over to a third party negotiator

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Teachers union representatives and negotiators for Orange County Public Schools declared that they've reached an impasse in their talks over a new teacher contract on Thursday.

They spent four hours sparring over the framework for their new contract in Orlando before agreeing on 28 issues. But when talk turned to salaries, the discussion hit a brick wall.

"Right now, it looks like we're pretty far apart on dollars," district chief negotiator Scott Howat said. "The board has given clear instructions on the amount of money."

"Our teachers work way more than 37.5 hours a week," said  union representative Diana Moore. "The work load has almost doubled."

There are two proposals by Orange County Public Schools on the table right now.

The first would cover two years, give Orange County school teachers a 4 percent raise over that time period, guarantee a maximum of $1,300 in evaluation bonuses and give more money to teachers who improve in those evaluations.

The second proposal would cover only one year and give teachers the same increase across the board. Those evaluation bonuses would be reduced, and the improvement bonuses would be lost.

Before a vote could be cast on Thursday, both sides declared an impasse, which now allows a third party negotiator to come in, review the books and negotiate an offer for the teachers union.

"I feel pretty beat up," said Moore. "That was a pretty abusive time."

"That's our frustration, too," Howat said. "We just want to get them the money."

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