Manatee County School District teachers have rejected a tentative contract agreement, which was negotiated between the district and their union.
While paraprofessionals ratified their tentative agreement, the teachers rejected theirs, which included an increase in the health insurance premiums for those with spouses or family plans. Both contract agreements also included pay raises for teachers, paraprofessionals and other support employees.
Pat Barber, head of the Manatee Education Association, said they notified Superintendent Diana Greene and other district leaders that “the teachers failed to ratify and the paras ratified.” According to Barber, they are not required to disclose what the final votes were.
In reaching the tentative agreement with the Manatee Education Association, Manatee County School District “offered to put approximately $4.6 million toward salary increases for all employees as well as an additional $4.6 million toward rising health insurance costs,” said Ron Ciranna, deputy superintendent of business services and operations.
“Bargaining units for the district and MEA agreed the tentative agreement offered the best use of the district’s finances to address increases in health care expenses and to increase employee pay,” Ciranna said. “Therefore, we are pleased that paraprofessionals voted to ratify the tentative agreement, and disappointed teachers voted not to ratify.”
For some teachers, the health insurance premium increase would have more than wiped out the salary increase.
The paraprofessionals’ agreement will go before the school board for final approval and the salary raises will be retroactive to July 1, according to Barber, who didn’t know Monday when the matter would go before the board.
In regard to the teacher agreement, the union will “regroup internally” before resuming bargaining, Barber said.
“We are required by law to return to the bargaining table,” she said. “It will be fairly quickly.”
Ciranna said “the district is ready to return to the bargaining table as soon MEA’s bargaining team is available.”
“It is important that the teachers fully understand that in light of today’s economic climate, we were able to provide the best health care coverage and salary increase that our budget would permit and still be good stewards of our district’s finances,” he said.
When asked whether she was confident an agreement could be ratified in the future, Barber said, “We will work toward that end.
“I am not sure what the outcome will be because we haven’t been back to the table yet,” she said.