School Board Sides with Superintendent in Salary Dispute

SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — Teachers in Santa Rosa County booed and yelled Thursday as the county school board voted to accept the superintendent’s salary increase proposal over the teacher’s union proposal.

The cafeteria at Bennett Elementary was packed full with teachers, smiles and hope apparent before the meeting, but the mood did a 180 by the time the meeting was concluded.

Teachers yelled at school board members after they decided to accept the superintendent’s salary increase proposal.  Depending on the performance and position, the superintendent’s proposed increased range from 1.65 percent to 2.20 percent.  The Santa Rosa Professional Educators, the teachers union, wanted 2.77 percent increases and a special magistrate agreed.

“I think that overall the consensus is with everyone, this decision was probably made before they came tonight,” said Latricia Laurant, a 6th-grade teacher at Avalon Middle School.

First, a lawyer spoke on behalf of the superintendent’s proposal.

“It’s fair and just due to the economic conditions facing this district and the citizens of Santa Rosa county,” he said.  “But it’s also very competitive in respect to whats going on in the market place.

Teachers, parents and community members then took turns voicing why they believe they deserve more of an increase.

“While we are fully aware it is your responsibility to maintain a “financially responsible budget” it is also your responsibility to take care of your front line regardless of the “difficulties” you may incur in doing so,” Laurant said.

After each side shared their reasoning, the school board decided 5-0 in favor of the superintendent’s proposal.

The superintendent wouldn’t do an on camera interview.  He provided this statement:

The public can have confidence this board and this superintendent has and will always reward employees with all they can.

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