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Leon County on verge of impasse with teachers over distributing salary increase

FILE PHOTO: Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna.
FILE PHOTO: Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna.(WCTV)
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 1:21 PM EDT
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KEY WEST, Fla. (WCTV) – Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna appeared before the state board of education Wednesday to explain the district’s failure to allocate teacher salary increases funded by the state.

The district has missed deadlines, dating back to October, to submit a salary distribution plan and expenditure report on allocation of the funding, approved by state lawmakers during the 2021 legislative session. Leon County Schools received about $500,000 from the state for teacher raises, according to Hanna.

LCS officials have been unable to reach an agreement with the teachers union on those pay increases. The sticking point is what educators call “compression” between salaries for those just entering the classroom, and veteran teachers.

“Those veteran teachers with 10 years of experience or more, are making the same as a 22-year-old coming right out of college,” Hanna said.

The legislation requires that 80% of the money goes toward raising base teacher pay. Hanna says in Leon County, that means beginning teachers would see a salary bump of $378, while veteran teachers would get just $31.

“As far as morale goes, that’s a morale breaker for a lot of people,” Hanna told the state board Wednesday morning.

“Don’t get me wrong, I applaud what we’re trying to do here. We have to recruit teachers to this profession, because we are facing a crisis when it comes to hiring teachers. But not only do we have to recruit high-level teachers, we have to be able to retain them,” Hanna said.

Hanna notified the board the district will meet with the teachers union again on Thursday, seeking to work out a deal for implementing the raises. If the two sides can’t agree Thursday, Hanna said they would declare an impasse and take the issue to a magistrate.

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