School Board members approved changes to contracts with the Hernando United School Workers (HUSW) and the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association (HCTA) at the regular meeting held on November 16, 2021. The contract changes were part of the consent agenda not pulled for discussion.
Changes to the HUSW and HCTA contracts include provisions for leave for instructional and non-instructional staff who test positive for COVID-19 and additional provisions for those staff who are exposed to a COVID-19 positive person.
Also included in both contracts is the acknowledgment that all instructional and non-instructional staff should have been included in the $1,000 Disaster Relief Payment as appropriated in Senate Bill 2500, and that tax-free payment will be made to those employed during the 2020-21 school year who did not receive funds directly from the state. This is a one-time bonus payment of $1000 and does not become part of the employee’s base salary.
HUSW members are eligible to receive a bus operator referral bonus of $50 for new applicants who begin work, and $300 when the applicant completes 6 months of employment.
Finally, the district will commit 50 percent of the total funds raised through the recent 1 mil tax increase to recruit and retain more teachers and staff. 31.25 percent of the 50 percent of the funds raised will go toward the non-instructional bargaining unit.
HCTA and HUSW Distribution of Referendum Funds
Estimated Revenue Generated: $11,832,744
50% on salaries and positions: $5,916,372
Charter share: $105,823
Estimated Available: $5,810,549
The parties agree to the following distribution of funds to each unit:
Non-Bargaining: 9.75 %
Changes specific to the HCTA contract include the right of members to request to have their children attend the school of their choice based on available capacity. Priority will be given to children of employees who work at the requested school.
An amount of $11,490 will be shared across each high school for additional coaches for new girls’ sports.
Teachers will see salary increases outlined in House Bill 641 and the General Appropriations Act. After proportionate distribution to charter schools, public schools will receive the remaining $3,815,637 in recurring funds and another $380,860 in new Teacher Salary Increase Allocation (TSIA) funds.
The HCTA contract also includes revisions to the teacher evaluation manual.
Pulled from the consent agenda for discussion were the topics of the millage increase and the disaster relief bonus, previously described.
62% of Hernando County voters voted in favor of increasing property taxes by 1 mil to increase revenue for the school district. 50% of the revenues collected are funding salary increases for teachers and staff. Aside from the county’s wishes to stay competitive, Governor Ron DeSantis ordered in 2020 that the minimum teacher salary will be $47,500.
Superintendent John Stratton explained when the order was enacted, new teachers received a significant salary increase, and veteran teachers received very little. The new contracts with the teachers’ union address this issue, and the result will be a tiered approach to salary increases, handled by the HCTA. HUSW also received funds for salary increases and divided them equally.
The millage increase is also funding the new Guardian program. Guardians are armed personnel that will aid sworn School Resource Officers (SROs) in school security. The five Guardians will be trained by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), and deployed to area schools. “We are not replacing our SROs,” Stratton explained. “If the millage is not approved by voters any given year — every four years, they have to re-approve it — then (the Guardian) program will go away. SROs will not go away.”