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Update: Leon reaches a deal with the union on teacher salaries, avoiding a magistrate

students doing an art assignment while sitting at horizontal tables
Tasha Weinstein
WFSU Education
Students at the old Imagine School at Evening Rose where Leon's new charter will be located.

Update: The Leon County School District and the Leon Classroom Teachers Association reached an agreement Thursday, avoiding the possibility of the issue going to a magistrate and the money reverting back to the state.

Read more here.

Original Story: The Leon County School District and the Leon Classroom Teachers Association are back at the bargaining table today to see if the sides can reach a deal for pay raises. They're still trying to figure out how to spend $500,000 allocated by the state in 2021. The sticking point remains a big gap between what veteran teachers, and beginners, make.

The money is through Gov. Ron DeSantis' effort to raise the starting pay of teachers to $47,500, and Leon is getting close to that figure. But veteran educators with a decade of classroom experience, are falling behind. Right now, some beginning teachers in Leon make the same or more than what those veteran teachers do. The issue is complicated by state law that says 80% of the funding has to go toward starting pay, leaving veteran teachers with a proposed $31 salary increase.

LCTA President Scott Mazur says the legislature is creating a system of have's, and have-nots “when what we should be doing is not looking at gimmicks that someone wants to get re-elected on. But what is a systemic, holistic approach to stabilizing our public schools?”

Superintendent Rocky Hanna admitted as much when he was recently called before the State Board of Education to answer why the district has not paid out the money lawmakers appropriated for raises in 2021.

“For us locally, what that meant was that a beginning teacher would receive an increase [of] around $378, and a veteran teacher would receive $31. As far as morale goes, and I live with a veteran middle school teacher, that’s a morale breaker.” 

Leon is one of seven districts that has yet to reach a deal with its union on 2021 pay hikes. If no deal is reached, the sides will have to take the issue to a magistrate. If the money remains unspent, it could end up going back to the state in September.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories here.