While many school districts have gone back to school or are putting the finishing touches on their back to school plans, teachers in Santa Rosa County are preparing for a special impasse meeting Thursday night concerning their salaries.
In September 2016, the Santa Rosa Professional Educators, the teachers union, began negotiations with the district for the 2016-17 Master Contract. They couldn’t agree on wage increases. The district offered a 1.8 percent wage increase, while the union wanted 2.77 percent wage increase.
Then, in February 2017, the superintendent called an impasse, with a special magistrate ruling in favor of the union in July. Thursday night, the school board will conduct the impasse meeting, but it’s happening at the same time as something else important. It’s Open House night in Santa Rosa County schools.
“I really am crossed about it, because I want to meet my kids,” said Latricia Laurant, a 6th-grade teacher at Avalon Middle School.
Laurant wanted to spend Thursday evening with her new students. At 5:45, she’ll leave her school to go to a special impasse hearing, concerning teachers salaries in Santa Rosa County.
“To be concerned with an issue that should have been resolved months ago, or shouldn’t even exist,” said Laurant. “I personally don’t feel like the issue should exist. You should take care of your teachers.”
The school board will be able to act on the superintendent’s salary recommendation or the recommendation of the special magistrate. The difference between the two proposals is about 1.3 million dollars.
“We could have been ratifying the contract this week instead of having a hearing, a legislative hearing,” said Rhonda Chavers, President of the Santa Rosa Professional Educators. “We could be ratifying the contract and moving forward and getting school started if he’d of just taken the magistrates decision and just move forward. That’s what I wish he’d have done.”
We reached out to Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick who provided this statement.
As Superintendent, I am responsible for developing a budget that meets the needs of students. This is and will always be my greatest concern. Balancing the needs of students with appropriate pay for employees is a difficult task while revenue from the legislature continues to be scarce. Students will always be our highest priority.
Our board is a competent and professional group who can look past the misleading rhetoric given by SRPE and see our salary proposal as fair and affordable.
I feel confident their professional duty of balancing the budget for students will look past a tainted opinion of the Special Magistrate developed by misleading and inaccurate information. I believe our board will make the right decision to continue to allow our district to remain solvent while meeting the needs of students.