Bargaining teams in 'step'

By: 
Dec. 9, 2010

A tentative agreement reached Tuesday, Dec. 7, would give teachers a two-step raise.

No money has exchanged hands just yet, but Flagler County teachers can go into the break feeling a bit more holiday cheer.

After six months of negotiations, the Flagler County School District and the Flagler County Educators Association reached a tentative agreement Tuesday, Dec. 7, to restore employees to the appropriate step on the salary schedule, starting in January.

The raises will cost $1.2 million.

Two years ago, teachers did not receive raises, known as “step raises.” Step raises coincide with the number of years a teacher or staff member has worked in the district. Teachers who have worked for 10 years in the district should be on step 10 of the pay scale, said Katie Hansen, president of the FCEA. Instead, they’re stuck at step 8 because of a failure to reach an agreement with the district.

“I am very much pleased.” Hansen said. “It’s the first year in many years that we have had true negotiating take place at the bargaining table. I feel that we were treated today with the respect that Flagler County employees deserve.”

Teachers filled the boardroom Dec. 7, in support of the raise they will be given.

The contracts still have to be ratified by both unions, FCEA and Flagler County Support Personnel Association, and then approved by the board.

The negotiations
In the most recent offer, the district’s bargaining team offered to give employees a $600 bonus before Christmas and come back to negotiations in January, when the budget is finalized, said Denise Haymes, who presented the plan Thursday, Dec. 2, for the district.

But the teachers said it wasn’t enough.

“We felt that the economic picture wasn’t getting any better, and they kept putting it off,” Hansen said. “We felt that impasse was an appropriate option for us.”

The board had about $8 million between reserved and unreserved funds in addition to $2.6 million in the education jobs fund, Hansen said. The teachers felt they had the money to do something for the employees.

“It was never our intent to insult a single soul in this district,” School Board member Colleen Conklin said to the room at the end of the meeting. “And I apologize that it was taken that way.”