STUART, Fla. — Teacher salary negotiations are now over in Martin County after months of back-and-forth discussion.
"We are relieved that it's over," said Arian Dineen, Murray Middle School Teacher.
Martin County was the last county in the state to allocate funds after the passage of House Bill 641, raising starting teacher pay, in June of 2020.
"It was a lot of factors this year," said MCSD Superintendent Dr. John Millay. "Martin County was one of the first, the first school district not just in Florida but one of the first in the nation to open. Their eyes were focusing on the students."
Now all teachers, regardless of experience, will earn at least $45,200.
"They deserve it," said Dineen. "We all deserve it. Teachers don't get paid enough anywhere in the country but most definitely not in Florida."
The pay increase is retroactive to the 2020 school year.
Teachers will soon see the difference in money once the proposal is signed by the school board and ratified by the teacher's union.
"We've been doing two jobs all year and we've been focusing as much as is humanly possible in the middle of a global pandemic," said Dineen.
While a deal has been reached for this school year, there will be questions moving forward.
Among the potential issues are pay increases for veteran teachers who already make more than the new minimum.
In the deal reached this week, teachers above the new starting salary received between $800-$1000.
Many say the bonus is not sufficient given the times.
"We've been told hang on, it'll come," said Dineen. "Let's just get through this session and we'll get on to the next session and things will be better and it's never happened."
After months of negotiating for the past year's pay, school district officials said they want to begin next year's salary negotiations early and before the next school year.