TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Veteran public school teachers in Leon County are set to receive a small pay raise.
Leon County Schools District superintendent Rocky Hanna says it's because the Florida legislature requires 80% of the money for raises to go towards getting new teachers to a $47,000 base pay.
The 20% split breaks down to $31 per veteran teacher.
"I'm having the hardest class year ever whether you speak to a five year teacher, 20 teacher or 30 plus year teacher it's the hardest year they've ever had, and to say we ratify this contract with $31 of the salary increase, I think that if you're listening to this, then you probably know what your answer would have been as well, so what we're asking us for more to be done," Leon County Teacher's Association president Scott Mazur said.
It's that fight for more money in the pockets of Leon teachers with a decade of experience that has the Leon County Teacher's Association and Leon County Schools still in the middle of salary negotiations.
Mazur says he won't give up until those teachers are properly compensated.
"What's fair is fair for the sacrifices that folks have put in for dealing with the most difficult year ever, and you know we understand people need something in their pocket, but we have veteran teachers that can't retire with dignity they're not getting a salary increases that used to," Mazur said.
Nearly seven months past the deadline for school districts to have a budget with teacher salaries ready to go, the Florida Board of Education is asking questions.
"We asked the superintendents of those districts to join us today to provide an update on where they are with the bargaining process or if they have completed the process to explain maybe why it took so long to come to that conclusion," Jacob Oliva, Florida Department of Education interim commissioner said.
Appearing before the state board in Key West Wednesday morning, Hanna pointed to recent changes to how they can hand out money.
"It came with instructions that 80% of those dollars would have to be allocated to raise the base teacher pay. And then 20% could be spread out across the rest of the schedule," Hanna said.
Newer teachers would see a $378 increase in order to get closer to the new base pay of $47,500 and only $31 for veterans teachers.
With dwindling enrollment, less money is available to pull from other funds.
But with only a couple of districts still negotiating, board members want to know why.
"So I think each district, you would look at individually on a case by case basis, as they've set the salary schedules, some districts have been able to maintain to reach that 47 Five, and if they're able to reach that base, then it provides a little bit different flexibilities. Some districts have local referendums to help build out salary schedules. So it's really it's not a one kind of simple answer," Oliva said.
Hanna says as it relates to Leon County Schools, his veteran teachers aren't happy.
"As far as morale goes and I live with a veteran middle school teacher, that's a morale breaker for a lot of people," Hanna said.