PBC school board approves employee pay raises

Posted at 3:13 PM, Mar 16, 2016

The Palm Beach County School District has announced that after reaching tentative agreements with all of its bargaining units, employees will receive, on average, a 3 percent increase.

Some will be retroactive from July 2015 and others from January 1.

The pay increases were approved by the School Board Wednesday evening and still need the ratification of individual union groups.

In addition, the district plans to move its minimum wage from $8.05 to $10 an hour. That will impact about 1,300 employees.

For Carla Case-Sweeney this raise means her long days at school are not going unnoticed. 

"I'm not kidding when I tell you that I put in about an average of 50 to 60 hours a week on teaching," said Case-Sweeney who teaches 10th graders at Santaluces Community High School. 

Her day doesn't end when the bell rings. 

"I work every chance I get. I work, I do summer school, I tutor," said Case-Sweeney. 

Every extra dollar counts and a 3 percent raise will add a little more green in her wallet. 

"It's a $100 more a month and I'm happy because that's another bill I can pay," she said.

Case-Sweeney was disappointed that last year's teacher salary raise was only 2 percent. 

"it was a slap in the face because we got 2 percent that was retroactive to March so that was very little money," added Case-Sweeney.

The school district is also working to pay school bus drivers $14 an hour which would make them the highest paid public school bus drivers in South Florida.

"A starting at $14 is really going to help us attract some better candidates some candidates who want to stay with us long term," said Dr. Avossa

The superintendent also said starting pay for teachers will increase from $39,500 to $40,775.

"Hopefully that will make us a little more competitive with our local districts, Palm Beach County Superintendent of Schools Robert Avossa said in a news conference Wednesday. "We have lost a little competitiveness."

School officials say teachers rated as highly effective would earn about $1,700 more a year, while effective teachers would be paid around $1,275 more each year.

“We're excited to have this behind us. It was a long process. Would we like more money? Absolutely. Do we know that the state does not fund education appropriately? Absolutely,” said Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association President Dr. Kathi Gundlach.

The district said the increases impact almost all employees except a small group of 30, which it is still working with.