Teachers' pay to take 'step' up

Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 11:42 p.m.

Teachers and school district support personnel will receive pay increases based on their years of experience and qualifications under agreements the School Board and school district employees approved Tuesday.

The salary increases will cost the school district approximately $1.4 million.

The "step" increases for teachers start at $300 and the majority are in the $500-$700 range.

But unlike years past, budget cuts mean no further salary increases for teachers beyond the "step" up the salary schedule that the collective bargaining agreement already required.

The salary schedule the School Board approved Tuesday remains the same as the 2007-08 school year - a situation that Board Chairwoman Tina Pinkoson said "none of us are happy about."

Alachua County Education Association President Gunnar Paulson said the county's teachers are in better shape than other areas of Florida where there has been no increase in pay at all.

Under a contract signed in 2001, teachers move up a "step" on the salary scale each year based on their years of experience and educational qualifications. The starting pay for a teacher with a bachelor's degree and no experience is $32,450.

Back in 2002, an arbitrator ruled that the School Board may not withhold those step increases from teachers. School district officials say they remain legally bound by that decision.

Paulson said the impasse this year dealt with support personnel moving up their salary scale. In a union newsletter, he wrote the impasse was broken after a Dec. 10 meeting with a federal mediator.

Teachers with 26 or more years of experience cannot move higher up the salary schedule and will instead receive a one-time $200 bonus.

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