BRADENTON -- Manatee County school teachers and teacher aides will see their salaries cut by 1.75 percent this year and will be asked to take two furlough days, following the school board’s 3-2 vote at an impasse hearing Wednesday night.
The board also voted to increase employee health insurance premiums by 29 percent. The board also decided not to award employees a “step” advancement for a year of experience, effective in the fourth quarter of this school year. The board had been told by district administrators that awarding the step increase would cost the district $458,000 this year and $1.9 million next year.
Board members Julie Aranibar and Karen Carpenter voted against all three decisions, while Bob Gause, Barbara Harvey and Harry Kinnan voted in support of the decisions.
Still remaining for the board were four other issues that arose out of a special magistrate’s ruling earlier this year on an impasse between district negotiators and the Manatee Education Association, which represents the district’s teachers and teachers aides. The hearing lasted well past 10 p.m. Wednesday evening.
The board’s decision on teacher salary cuts was a full percentage point less than Schools Supt. Tim McGonegal’s original proposal to cut salaries by 2.75 percent. McGonegal reminded the board several times that he was simply following their directive to reduce the district’s budget this year by $14 million rather than $11 million.
Union leaders have repeatedly said the board could have followed through on other budget recommendations rather than having teachers absorb the additional $3 million in cuts.
The hearing came after a two-hour protest by hundreds of teachers, who lined Manatee Avenue and Sixth Avenue wearing red shirts and signs reading “Enough is Enough.” The teachers were protesting the salary cuts, in addition to several other measures to be considered at the hearing.
Christine Hawes, Herald education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.