Negotiations between the Manatee County School District and the union representing its teachers will resume on Wednesday when both sides will present their case to a special magistrate.
At stake? Potential raises and health insurance premium changes that could mean a lot more money in many teachers’ paychecks.
The Manatee Education Association — the union representing the teachers — is asking for roughly $2.8 million more in pay raises and health insurance premium contributions than the district said it can afford.
District negotiator Bill Vogel said the school district made the best offer it could in the tentative agreement between the two entities that was rejected in a vote by the teachers in October.
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“The disagreement is over affordability. That’s the only thing I can say,” Vogel said. “The board and superintendent have done everything possible to provide increases based on their financial ability to do that.”
We're not going to count on them to find the money. We are going to tell them where the money is.
- MEA President Pat Barber
But MEA Head Pat Barber said union negotiators are not only asking for raises, they will tell the district how to pay for those raises.
“We're not going to count on them to find the money,” Barber said. “We are going to tell them where the money is.”
Special Magistrate Robert Hoffman will hear arguments from Vogel and MEA negotiator Bruce Proud.
Talks between the district and the MEA stalled in November when both sides declared they were at an impasse following the teachers’ rejection of the initial agreement.
What are the points of contention?
The union and district are roughly $2.8 million apart in their current proposals.
The district is offering:
- Two pay-step level increases for teachers rated “effective” on their evaluations (roughly $600).
- Three pay-step level increases for teachers rated “highly effective” on their evaluations (roughly $900) .
- Three pay-step level increases for all teachers on the grandfathered schedule (roughly $900).
The union wants:
- Three pay-step level increases for performance pay scale teachers rated “effective” on their evaluations (roughly $900).
- Four pay-step level increases for performance pay scale teachers rated “highly effective” on their evaluations (roughly $1,200).
- Four pay-step level increases for all teachers on the grandfathered schedule (roughly $1,200).
- A cost-of-living increase of one pay level for all teachers (roughly $300).
- Retroactive pay for all teachers (roughly $450).
- A longevity pay supplement of $2,100 for teachers here for 16 year and $3,600 for 25-year veterans.
- An additional $1.6 million toward offsetting health insurance premium increases.
What happens at the hearing?
After Hoffman hears both sides present their cases, he will issue a non-binding report with a recommendation to resolve the outstanding issues. Barber said magistrates will make a ruling on each point of contention either in favor of the district or the union.
If either side rejects any part of the magistrate’s recommendation, the School Board will act as arbitrator for any remaining disagreements between the two parties.