Manatee County School District, union reach deal on pay raises

BRADENTON -- The Manatee County School District has reached a tentative agreement with the Manatee Education Association for a 2 percent raise pool for teachers and paraprofessionals, the district announced Tuesday.

It is a 2 percent increase on the total amount the district puts toward compensation for teachers and paraprofessionals, said Pat Barber, MEA president.

"The total toward salary is 2 percent, but not all teachers get a 2 percent raise," she said.

The minimum increase for teachers is $544 a year and the minimum increase for paraprofessionals is $400, according to the district.

The raises, Barber said, are a step in the right direction.

"We have not been made whole, but we have stopped the backward slide," she said.

The agreement will not be official until approved by MEA members and the Manatee County School Board. The agreement must be ratified by MEA members first.

Barber said she is working on educating MEA members on agreement details, and then a meeting and vote date will be set.

If approved, the raise will be retroactive to July 1.

Negotiations, begun in the summer, finished Monday.

The agreement makes the new salary schedule compliant with Florida statutes regarding performance pay, according to the district.

Money for the raises comes out of the district general fund, said Don Hall, deputy superintendent of operations.

"We didn't know how much it would be, but we did budget for it," he said.

The district is also contributing money to help offset health insurance premium increases. The district is putting $2.5 million toward health care premiums for all district employees, and $1.9 million specifically for teachers and paraprofessionals.

The overall expenditure for the teacher and paraprofessional settlements, which includes health insurance and salary changes, is $7.6 million.

Officials did not immediately have specific numbers on what the 2 percent increase to the salary scale equals in dollars, Hall said.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney.