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Clay teachers union and school board at odds over pay raises

5:11 PM, Aug 29, 2013   |    comments
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CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -- The Clay County teachers union says the school board is not living up to Governor Rick Scott's promise to increase teacher salaries this school year.

Clay County schools are getting $6.1 million this year for teacher pay raises. Right now, the teachers union and the Clay County School Board are at odds over how much each teacher will receive and if the raise will be permanent, or just this year.

The latest proposal from the school board offers teachers a $1,400 raise each while the teachers union is asking for a $1,960 a year raise. Former middle school guidance counselor and Clay County Education Association President Renna Lee Paiva is shocked and disappointing that the school board said it won't put the money on the permanent school salary schedule.

"The whole reason we got it was to enrich the salary schedule so the state of Florida, which is 47th in the union in teacher pay, can start being comparable to everyone around us in other states. That was the intent of the governor, it is not intended to be a bonus. It was intended to be in the salary scale. I thought we would sit at the table, divvy up the $6 million and be done with this. It hurts. It hurts."

Paiva said Clay County is the only county in the state refusing to put it on the salary schedule.

The school board argues the money may not be there next year, and they want teachers in the classroom now to get it. They say negotiations are an annual process. 

"The district's interest is for teachers currently employed by the district," said public relations officer Gavin Rollins. "And we can't predict the future. The goal is to come up with a contract that gives teachers currently employed by the school district the money the governor has given for this purpose. The district also wants to come up with an agreement that is fiscally sustainable long term. "

Paiva said if the county gets its budget cut next year and the money is not there from the state, then they could negotiate a pay cut if necessary, but she does not anticipate that happening. She said it is time to turn things around.

"We haven't had a pay raise in 7 years."  

Toyia Benson has three children in Clay County schools. She believes the schools in Clay County are doing a good job educating her children. After hearing about the disagreement, she told First Coast News that she thought the pay raises should be permanent.

"Teachers everywhere are deserving of a pay raise to educate our kids. They teach our kids and they go on to be successful, some become doctors and lawyers."

The Clay County teachers union and the school board are scheduled to go back to the bargaining table on Thursday, September 5.

First Coast News