In their regular meeting on September 19, 2023, The Hernando County School Board ratified several changes to the district’s labor contract with the Hernando County Teacher’s Association (HCTA) in a 5-0 vote.
Board member Mark Johnson said he was “reluctantly” going along with the new budget, as it contained money for teacher raises and supplementary pay that he felt the district did not have. According to Johnson, $1,000,000 of the funding for the new pay will be drawn from a future construction and maintenance fund. Superintendent John Stratton said the fund the money came from was not for building future facilities but to operate and staff them once they were built. Stratton said the use of the future fund would not be needed for “four of five years or more down the road.”
Superintendent Stratton added the district would have time to replenish the future fund money if it were transferred out now for teacher raises. After some discussion, Johnson said he remained concerned that the district should not short other areas of the budget.
Board member Shannon Rodriguez strongly favored the move, stating, “If we don’t have any teachers, we won’t need any new buildings.” Rodriguez emphasized that she believed the district’s teachers were severely underpaid and said she wished the district had more to give them. The remaining board members echoed Rodriguez’s sentiment.
The agreement with the HCTA includes supplementary pay, performance pay, and a market adjustment. The performance agreement includes legally mandated stipends for teachers receiving a “Highly Effective” or “Effective” rating receiving a $100 increase or a $50.00, respectively. All returning instructional staff who worked one day more than half of their contract in the 22-23 school year and were reappointed to work in the 23-24 school year will receive a salary increase of $2,600.
The new hire salary of a teacher was set at $49,500, with higher amounts set for teachers with up to twenty years of experience. The new structure also includes supplementary pay for teachers with an advanced degree of up to $4500 annually for those holding a doctorate.
Specific positions that are designated as “Critical Shortage” positions also entitle teachers to supplementary pay. Those positions include Social Worker, Program Staffing Specialist, Behavior Analyst, and Employment Specialist, will receive a supplement of $3,955.00 in addition to the base pay. Speech/Language Pathologists, School Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, and Physical Therapists will receive a supplement of $9,170.00 in addition to the base pay.
Sixteen new assignment pays were created (aka supplementary pay). These positions will be filled by existing employees who will carry out additional duties such as supervising school clubs, athletics, or organizations that traditionally meet outside of the regular school day. The new positions include Career Technical Education Advisor, Distributive Education (DECA) Lead Advisor, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Lead Advisor, Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) Lead Advisor, Future Educators of America (FECA) Lead Advisor, Future Farmers of America (FFA) Lead Advisor, Health Occupations Students of America Lead Advisor, High School Color Guard Assistant to Director, High School Percussion Technician Assistant to Director, High School Wind Technician Assistant to Director, High School Winter Guard Assistant to Director, Skills USA Lead Advisor, Title 1 Compliance Liaison, Title 1 School-Based Family Engagement Liaison, and a Technology Students Association Lead Advisor.
The approved changes will result in an overall increase of $3,823,548.24 to the district’s current operating budget.