JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The union representing Duval County teachers has reached a tentative agreement with the school district to raise starting teacher pay.
Duval Teachers United President Terri Brady said if approved by union members and the school board, the agreement would raise starting teacher pay to $48,700. Last year’s starting salary was $47,500.
“So that’s a very good starting point. It’s higher than what the state wanted us to reach. So we’re excited about that,” Brady said on The Morning Show.
It comes as the district works to address an ongoing teacher shortage. As of Thursday, according to Brady, there were still between 300-350 vacancies.
In 2020, the Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis approved $500 million to go towards the goal of a $47,500 starting salary for all teachers and more funds have been added in the following years.
But while starting salaries are rising for new teachers, veterans educators feel left behind. Brady said Duval County Public Schools needs more funding to help raise pay for those that have been in the system for years, which is the goal of a proposed property tax hike on the ballot in August.
“Right now, we have very limited financial resources that have not been targeted or encumbered to go into the different salaries for our employees overall,” Brady said. “In the teacher [bargaining] unit, we have 20 laws that we must implement for salary negotiation. So most of the money goes to beginning salaries.”
Some teachers, frustrated by the limited nature of the negotiations, say they plan to vote against the tentative agreement.
“All of the money is going to starting teachers and zero to the vets,” asked a 24-year veteran DCPS teacher who asked not to be identified. “If the “mil” doesn’t pass, what is left for the vets?”
Jack Leon teaches at Duval County’s Atlantic Coast High School and said teachers are in a difficult position, having to ask state lawmakers or the general public for a raise.
“We don’t have the opportunity to go to our principal and say, ‘hey, man, my rents gone up 30%. What can we do?’” Leon said. “So, with teachers, we really are at the mercy of DTU bargaining for us, with the school board approving it with the state also approving it.”
Leon said the increase is modest but welcome. Still, the millage rate increase would have a much more robust impact to teacher salaries, as provide a local funding source for salaries, making Duval County Public Schools less beholden to the machinations of a vengeful administration.
DTU members have 10 days to vote on whether to approve the tentative agreement. Should it be approved by the membership, Duval County’s school board would then need to sign off on the salary schedule.
If the property rate hike is approved by voters on August 23, teachers would be paid more and those with experience could get a $5,000 bonus to keep them on the job.