JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County teachers voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract that will provide raises for educators, especially first-year teachers.
The 80% approval by teachers comes despite some reservations about the raises.
“It was a fair contract based on limited resources from the state, but it was not equitable because your younger teachers with less years experience got more money because that’s what the governor targeted the money for,” said Terrie Brady, president of Duval Teacher United.
The state-funded pay raises are a result of HB 641, which was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in June. It set 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 in the state to $47,500.
In Duval County, the new starting annual salary would move up more than $6,000 to $45,891.
The bill provides Duval County with $22,882,843 for teacher salary increases, $18,306,274 or 80% of which is earmarked for raising the minimum base teacher salary, and the other 20% or $4,576,569 can be used for boosting the pay of other instructional personnel. Brady said the district also put up an additional $3.2 million towards salary increases.
The frustration in many districts, including Duval County’s, is that raising the base salary offers veteran teachers a fraction of the raise that newer, less-experienced teachers are provided.
Brady and other union members told News4Jax that they understand that this equity issue was created in Tallahassee -- not the Duval County School Board chamber.
Brady said she does think the additional money will help the district recruit teachers.
“But I don’t believe this celebrated the success of our veteran teachers, and those that will actually be mentoring teachers,” Brady said. “Even though [veteran teacher] salaries will be greater, the difference between the two is drastically closer now.”
The Duval County School Board will meet on Jan. 11 to vote on the new contact.
“This is not the end of bargaining,” Brady said. “We’re going to continue to negotiate for our veteran teachers and all teachers, and we hope to go back to the table as early as March.”