Broward school board votes against proposal for annual teacher pay raise for next 3 years

Failed proposal included removing services

FOR LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Broward County School Board voted 5-4 against raising teachers’ wages after a day-long discussion about a proposal on Tuesday that proponents said would have made the district’s teachers one of the highest paid in Florida.

John Sullivan, the chief communications and legislative affairs officer for Broward County Public Schools, released a chart with the proposal to pay $100,000 to teachers, and $150,000 to principals and assistant principals by 2025.

Broward School Board Member Allen Zeman said the BCPS budget had an increase in state funding of a little over 9%, a 13% increase in property values. There was also a referendum that generated about $177 million.

“What this really means is about a 3 to 4% raise for teachers,” Zeman said on Tuesday before the vote.

The five school board members who voted against the proposal were Chair Lori Alhadeff, Torey Alston, Brenda Fam, Sarah Leonardi, and Nora Rupert.

The five school board members who voted against the proposal to raise teacher pay on Tuesday were Chair Lori Alhadeff, Torey Alston, Brenda Fam, Sarah Leonardi, and Nora Rupert. (BCPS)

The school board members who voted in support of the proposal were Zeman, Debi Hixon, Daniel P. Foganholi, and Jeff Holness. But even Hixon had reservations.

“I’m very concerned about promising an additional $10,000 with all the unknowns that we have,” Hixon, the vice chair, said before the vote.

The failed proposal listed reductions to the budget that included cuts to IT contracts by 20%, vacant clerical and administrative positions, custodial staff, technology contracts reduced by 15%, and conference and professional development travel cut by 30%.

School Board members Allen Zeman, Debi Hixon, Daniel P. Foganholi, and Jeff Holness voted in support of a proposal to raise teacher pay on Tuesday in Broward County. (BCPS)

“There is nothing in this budget that would require an incumbent to lose their position,” Zeman said during the meeting.

Other proposed changes to the budget included relocating $2.5 to $3.5 million from a recruiting vendor to substitute teacher pay.

“There is a real competition for talent out there and I want Broward to be the first county in Florida to pay teachers $100,000 by 2025,” Zeman said.

Broward County Public Schools (.)

Broward County Superintendent Peter Licata reiterated his concerns before the school board voted.

“This is going to be huge for Broward. We just have got to make sure we do it in a deliberate fashion to make sure we’re not removing services,” Licata said. “That worries me too.”

The referendum that generated about $177 million expires in about five years.

Florida law requires district school boards to adopt and use a salary schedule that although subject to collective bargaining considers annual performance assessments, professional experience, and educational degree level.

State law also requires the district and union to negotiate wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment, which are included in the collective bargaining agreement, which not only include the salary schedule but also benefits such as health insurance and grievance procedures.

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About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.