Manatee County teachers to get pay raise as other districts continue negotiations

The starting salary for Manatee County teachers is set to rise from less than $53,000 a year to more than $55,000 after the district school board unanimously approved a new contract with the Manatee on Tuesday. Educational Association.

The new base salary is set at just under $48,600 with a top-up of nearly $6,600 from a voter-approved property tax last year. The new contract also provides for a minimum wage of $15 an hour for all staff. The district said the pay increases are all retroactive to July 1.

School officials have called the pay increase a win-win for the community, with Manatee School Board Chairman James Golden saying the move will make the district more competitive in attracting and retaining quality educators in schools. classroom.

District leaders hope the increase will help ease the teacher shortage. When school started in August, the district said Manatee County had 84 teaching vacancies. District 4 Representative Charlie Kennedy on Tuesday praised the speed with which the negotiation process proceeded.

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“We’re mid-September approving this contract, and it’s the oldest I can remember in a while,” he said. “So I really thank everyone involved for doing this so quickly and efficiently.”

Meanwhile in Pinellas County. Negotiations have stalled over teacher pay, with several teachers appearing before the school board on Tuesday night demanding a substantial pay rise.

“I’m really struggling as a teacher. How come I’ve been teaching for 29 years and still struggling after this last year? The rates I got didn’t even cover the gas. Think about it,” one educator said. . “My house can sell for some ungodly amount of money. And I can pay off my mortgage and go to Pasco County, where they got a 5.4% rate and they’re going to get a referendum.”

Earlier this month, the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association rejected offers from Pinellas County Public Schools, requesting additional data before scheduling future bargaining sessions. And in Hillsborough, district officials have toyed with the idea of ​​addressing teacher shortages by moving to a four-day school week.

With the new Manatee Education Association contract, the school district’s teacher starting salary now becomes one of the highest in Florida.

William M. Mayer