CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Negotiations reached an impasse Friday night between the Clay County School Board and representatives for the Clay County Education Association which represents teachers.
The sticking point, according to CCEA president Vicki Kidwell, is the distribution of state-funded pay raises through HB 641, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in June. It sets aside $400 million to raise the minimum salary for teachers and $100 million to provide veteran teachers a pay boost. The measure aims to raise the minimum teacher salary to $47,500.
“The district is committed to working collaboratively with our teachers and in accordance with state statute as it relates to teacher salaries,” District spokeswoman Nicole Young said.
The Clay County School Board’s plan would give new teachers an increase of around $6,000, while longer-serving instructors would receive around $600, according to Kidwell.
“That’s the sticking point,” Kidwell said. “We felt that that was unfair given that the profession is in such crisis right now, and that our teachers, who are veterans, at least some of them are the only one employed in their house right now because their spouses have lost jobs, and they needed to be at least given a comparable salary.”
Florida ranks 45th among U.S. states in average teacher salary, and sits about 17% below the national average, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Because state law doesn’t allow labor organizations to stage a strike, the current deadlocked negotiations will likely go into mediation with a third party. Ultimately, the school board has the final decision on how it will distribute salaries.
Nearby, negotiators with the St. Johns County teachers union and the St. Johns County School District tentatively agreed to terms on Tuesday that would raise the starting pay for teachers by more than $6,500.