Proposed contract would give Manatee teachers $1,750 raises

eearl@bradenton.comAugust 13, 2013 

MANATEE -- For the first time in four years, the Manatee County School District and the Manatee Education Association agreed on a tentative contract after negotiating teacher raises.

Teachers whose salaries were previously frozen will receive salary increases of $1,750 per year.

"The $1,750 is not a magic number," said Manatee Education Association president Pat Barber. "That is how far the amount of money we had would go in bringing people's salaries up on the salary schedule. No one got less than that."

While it falls short of the $2,500 that Gov. Rick Scott said teachers could expect, Bill Vogel, the chief negotiator for the Manatee County school district and the former superintendent of Seminole County, said that increases covered the full $6.3 million that was allotted to Manatee County by the state.

Teachers' aides will also be getting a salary increase of $381.

The salary increases are pending approval by teachers. Barber will present the tentative settlement information to teachers to vote.

After the teachers vote, the Manatee County School Board will vote to approve the settlement.

Vogel said that the school board will ultimately decide the approval of the settlement.

In 2011, when the Manatee Education Association rejected contracts, the school board imposed contracts.

Vogel, who has been negotiating contracts for the past 15 years, said he believes teachers will be pleased.

"I would say teachers will be pleased to start the new year with some of the lost wages restored and pleased that the negotiators were able to reach an agreement," Vogel said. The negotiation was settled Monday night just before midnight, Vogel said.

Barber said in a press release that the district and the Manatee Education Association worked late to ensure that the salary increases happened quickly.

"This year's bargaining efforts were done in the spirit of collaboration with both MEA and management working to get money in the pockets of teachers and paraprofessionals as quickly as possible," Barber said. "I appreciate the hard work and commitment of the members of both teams and reaching tentative agreements."

There is not a date set, nor a timeline, for Manatee County teachers to approve the contract.

The agreement is for three years, through June 30, 2016, with reopeners for the annual salary negotiations.

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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