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Duval County teacher pay to be performance-based

School board approves change that will allow teachers to make more, faster

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County School Board has unanimously approved a new agreement on salaries based on teacher's performance that could lead to more money for local teachers.

The change make Duval County one of the first districts in the state to be in full compliance with state requirements regarding teacher pay.

Duval County Public Schools superintendent Nikolai Vitti made the announcement Friday along with Duval Teachers United.

The new agreement gives veteran teachers the option of two different salary schedules -- one based on performance or one based on the traditional system. Vitti said he hopes the change will help recruit and keep successful teachers in Duval County.

"Our veteran teachers (from the) Baby Boom generation are retiring, and we need that new influx of teachers that hopefully won't just come into the classroom but stay long term," Vitti said. "And certainly a salary that's competitive with private sectors is important, and we've accomplished that."

The traditional pay schedule gives teachers a salary increase based on seniority. The new performance-based pay offers teachers the chance to make more money, faster based on their evaluations and student achievement.

"We didn't just pull this contract settlement out of thin air," said Terry Brady, president of DTU. "We actually did research. We did compliance. We turned around and tried to do the best job we could to meet the needs of our teachers."

The change comes after Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill requiring new teachers and teachers on annual contracts to move to the performance pay schedule. Teachers who have been with the district since before 2009 will be grandfathered in and can decide for themselves if they want to stick with their current pay plan or go to the performance pay plan.

The new contract will increase the starting salary of Duval County teachers from $37,300 to $39,000 -- the highest in Northeast Florida.

"I know the value of knowing that you not only have a job but that you are valued," teacher Paula Wright said.

While some teachers are happy about the changes, others say a lot is at stake with their paycheck being based off a new state assessment test.

"It's a start, but nowhere near enough," Brady said. "Our teachers, based on compliance from state requirements, are sacrificing their personal time with their own family and their children to meet the needs of the students they stand for every single day."

The new pay schedules will be implemented next school year and include a three-year contract.