HB641 Impacts on T-Bargaining Unit Member Salaries
As many of you are aware, Governor DeSantis signed into law HB641 (minimum teacher pay law) this past week. The information below seeks to educate CTA members about the conditions of the law and how it may impact your salary.
Explanation of the Law:
- The state legislature created a pot of funds that are earmarked exclusively to raise teacher salaries in the state of Florida. These funds must be used explicitly as they are described in the statutory language of HB641.
- Each school district in Florida received a specific amount of funds from this state-wide pot.
- Each school district must first use 80% of the funds allocated to them to raise minimum classroom teacher salaries as high as possible, up to $47,500. If enough money has not been allocated to reach $47,500, a district must use the 80% of their allocation to raise minimum classroom teacher salaries as close as they can to that level.
- Each school district must use the other 20% of funds allocated to them to locally negotiate base salary raises for 3 groups of educators:
- 1 – Those who received a minimum salary increase to get them to $47,500, but it was less than 2%. So a classroom teacher making $47,300 who gets a $200 raise to get to the new legal minimum salary, would also be eligible to be included in raises that come from the 20% pot. Due to the low level of salary increase they received from the 80% pot.
- 2 – Those who currently make more than $47,500 and received no raise from the 80% minimum salary level pot.
- 3 – Those members of the T-Bargaining Unit who are not defined by state statute as a “classroom teacher.” To be defined as a classroom teacher you must have student rosters attached to your name in classes that earn state approved credit for graduation purposes. That is the simplest explanation of what the state defines as a “classroom teacher” vs those not defined as such. Individuals in this group include but are not limited to media specialists, school counselors, certified preK teachers, occupational/physical therapists, etc.
- The funds allocated this year for these raise purposes (minimum salary raises and veteran raises) automatically roll over into next year’s budget. So unless the legislature changes the law next year to cut teacher pay and eliminate these funds, these raises will continue to exist and be funded by the state.
SDPBC Budget Advisory Committee Update
The slide below was presented at the SDPBC Budget Advisory Committee this week. It shows the real dollar amounts available for the 80% and 20% pots. It shows that the SDPBC preliminary calculations indicate that the funds allocated in the 80% pot for raising minimum classroom teacher salaries will get very close, if not achieve the $47,500 target. It also shows the funds available in the 20% pot. Due to the fact that the 20% pot has to be locally negotiated and determining who is eligible will take a little more time for the SDPBC to prepare, we do not know exactly how these funds will ultimately be apportioned to eligible employees. Those discussions will be taking place over the next few weeks in an effort to define who will receive what from the 20% pot.
Commentary from President Katz on HB641
Obviously this law is provoking a lot of emotion about how it will impact each educator personally. As such, I wanted to take time to objectively explain some issues relative to the passage and signing into law of HB641.
- This law is objectively amazing for those who truly benefit from it in a meaningful way. Educators earning $41,000 starting salary or anywhere just above it are in line for arguably the largest state funded raises in the history of Florida.
- This law is simultaneously and objectively horribly offensive to veteran educators and educators excluded entirely from the minimum salary raises. For all intents and purposes, raising minimum teacher pay by up to 15% and allocating funds to raise veteran teacher pay by approximately 1-2% would be offensive in any profession. It effectively places a dollar value of $0 on a decade worth of teaching experience for those with 10+ years in the profession.
- CTA/FEA and every other local teachers union throughout Florida pleaded the entire legislative session for the state legislature to allocate these funds and allow them to flow to each school district and be negotiated locally. Had this simple request been written into HB641 vs the legislature dictating the conditions for how these funds must be used, CTA would have been able to negotiate their use in a more fair and equitable way to help all educators, not one group over another. The true end result of HB641 is that it is yet another law from the state legislature that pits educators against one another and carves out clear cut winners and losers. That being said, it is clear that both new and experienced educators need to focus their efforts on demanding better from the legislature, and not attacking one another.
- Due to the fact that school grades and evaluations were suspended last year because of COVID-19 shutdowns, the Florida Department of Education suspended all evaluation based/merit pay laws for this coming year. In doing so, for the first time in a decade, the ability to negotiate local raises is less restricted and more flexible for CTA/SDPBC. This will offer an opportunity to try to balance out the raises we all receive when you combine the impact of the state funds and local funds for raises. That being said, we are also in the midst of a global recession and while CTA will be fighting to ensure local raises are fully funded this school year, the SDPBC has already indicated they do not view local raises as a guarantee under the current economic conditions. CTA will push back on any efforts to eliminate local raises this year because the funds are already allocated in our local budget and we believe the SDPBC should hold true to the budget and keep these funds earmarked for our raises.
I felt the need to write this section to make clear that educators need to stick together and not begrudge one another and fight among ourselves when the true source of demoralizing laws is the legislature. Laws like this were not designed by new educators or veteran educators. In fact, it is safe to say that almost zero educator input is ever truly entertained in the construction of the laws that impact us coming out of Tallahassee each year. If they did listen to educators, these laws would all look very different, obviously.
As stated above, the law is simultaneously a gift to those who truly benefit and a massive slap in the face for those who do not. I am making no attempt to sugarcoat the law. Those are just the objective facts.
CTA will be working with the SDPBC in the coming weeks to discuss both the 20% allocation and how it can be apportioned to eligible educators and how HB641 and its impacts should tie into locally negotiated raises for the 2020-2021 school year.
CTA/FEA and every other teachers union will be working hard next year to try to lobby for the state to complete their efforts in raising teacher salaries in Florida by focusing their funding allocations on veteran teachers who did not benefit from HB641. That is the next step moving forward to try to right the wrongs of HB641.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly at Justin.Katz@floridaea.org. I will do my best to provide any information you need.