The New Year has brought a refreshed and amicable partnership to the Sarasota County School District’s relationship with the Sarasota Classified Teachers Association.
The two parties reached a contract agreement Thursday regarding pay.
Teachers with an “effective rating” can anticipate a 3.25% raise, while teachers deemed “highly effective” can expect a 4.25% increase.
Determining the final salary can be challenging, said Barry Dubin, executive director of the Teachers Union, because the district doesn’t have a current salary schedule.
Currently in Sarasota County, the minimum teacher salary is $44,300. However, teacher’s coming into the district with outside teaching experience would receive an increase of 0.5% for each year of experience, up to 15 years, Dubin explained.
Dubin said 80% of teacher’s in the district are “highly effective,” which would add an approximate $2,300 to their salaries.
Dubin added that a salary schedule never applied to teachers hired after 2009. The school district’s website has a grandfathered instructional salary schedule, which includes a note that that schedule only applies to the teachers hired before July 2009.
“I don’t like it the way it is now, I think we have to change it in the future,” said Dubin, adding that it’s an issue they will likely tackle when the district finds a new superintendent.
The two groups also agreed to a $12 minimum wage, which would provide a salary increase of approximately 33% for those in positions like cafeteria aide or bus driver. The current starting salary for these positions was listed at $9.01 for the 2019-20 school year.
“I think everyone thought we should have a livable minimum wage,” Dubin said of the sizable increase.
Dubin said the bargaining process ended very differently than it began in May, with former Superintendent Todd Bowden representing the district.
“Bargaining was not a pleasant place to be,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it in this district.”
He said a lot of credit belongs to the interim superintendent, Misti Corcoran, whom he believed wanted to get bargaining behind the district, so school officials can focus on the superintendent search.
“Everyone in the school district was sick of what was happening here,” he said. “This was the top district in the state. We were very, very proud, and then all of a sudden this comes along — they put in someone who wasn’t suited for the job, all he wanted to do was fight,” Dubin said.”Misti turned that around.”
“We were glad to get back to the way we used to be. We always worked together to solve common problems,” Dubin said. “I think this is an indication things will get better.”