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Polk School District Reaches Compromise With Teacher Union

November14, 2017

The Polk County School District reached a compromise Tuesday evening with the Polk Education Association (PEA), ending a period of impasse declared earlier this year.

The total cost of compensation is expected to be approximately $10 million.

Teachers will receive a pay increase of between 2 percent to 3.5 percent (retroactive to January 2017) based on years of service and evaluations.

Paraeducators and educational support personnel will receive an annual increase of 2 percent.

PEA represents about 6,700 teachers, 1,700 paraeducators and 550 educational support personnel.

The agreement will be ratified at a future date, and then go before the School Board for approval.

In addition to salary, the agreement covers other issues related to health insurance, contract language regarding supplemental payments for teachers who hold advanced degrees, the inclusion of the teacher evaluation system manual in the collective bargaining agreement, and teacher transfers.

“This impasse has been a wedge in our district for far too long,” said Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd. “We will never be able to pay our teachers what they deserve, but I am extremely pleased that we were able to reach a compromise and put the impasse behind us. Now it is time to unite behind our shared mission of delivering high-quality education to the students of Polk County. We must also work together in lobbying our lawmakers in Tallahassee. Education is not adequately funded — not even close — which is why this impasse occurred in the first place. We have to make our legislators hear us and implore them to change our funding model for the better.”

In early January, the School District declared an impasse in the collective bargaining negotiations with its two unions: the PEA and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2227.

A compromise was previously reached with AFSCME.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting, the School Board approved a 1.5 percent wage increase (retroactive to July 2017) to 2,500 AFSCME-represented employees, including custodians, bus drivers and school nutrition personnel. Additionally, Polk County Public Schools will continue paying perfect-attendance bonuses to bus drivers and bus attendants.