Hillsborough County teachers see pay raise but say it’s not enough

The Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association is thankful to see a bump in pay for teachers, but explained the district needs to pay them more with inflation.

WTSP | By Shannon Clowe | May 8, 2023

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — After a 10-month fight, Hillsborough County teachers and support staff are celebrating a salary win, but say it’s not enough to fill the 700 vacancies in Hillsborough County public schools. 

Some Hillsborough County teachers spoke Monday afternoon about how they need to be paid better.

“Inflation is just taking all of my salary right now,” a teacher, Roger Marcellus, said.

As a ninth grade teacher at Blake High School, Marcellus loves his job, but not for the money.

“I just want to be able to live and not have to struggle,” he said.

Marcellus said like many other Hillsborough County teachers, he works a second job. 

He explained other teachers have had enough.

“One the first day of this academic year one of the ninth grade teachers quit,” Marchellus said.

Those with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association (HCTA) stated there are 700 openings in Hillsborough public schools.

“Imagine teaching for over a decade and never seeing a pay increase,” one teacher stated during a press conference. That was their reality until recently.

Members with the Hillsborough County School Board approved a pay bump for teachers with experience.

“Some have claimed this fight was for a raise, but in fact, this was about our educators and support staff earning their accrued years of experience,” the President of the HCTA, Rob Kriete, said. “Years that they have already worked for in our schools.”

Kriete explained the district will now give teachers a reoccurring raise for the current year, rather than a one time bonus.

In Marcellus’ situation, he has 14 years of experience and will now see a pay bump for that. He also has a masters in literature, which is what he teaches, so now the district will pay a supplement for that as well.

Kriete explained the district is now giving recurring steps and will pay a supplement for advanced degrees. 

Marcellus added the advanced degree supplement that most teachers will qualify for is $1,000 for a master in their field of certification. With that, he said there are many teacher who have a master in an education or curriculum development field, but to get the supplement, the degree must be in their field. He said some teachers can get $2,000 for a specialist degree and $3,000 for a Ph.D.

Kriete said instructional aides who serve as substitutes will get a $10 per hour supplement. This comes after the district’s first offer was nothing. 

Officials say the fight for better pay isn’t over.

“We thank the school board of Hillsborough County for accepting the magistrates ruling, while we call on them again to settle our contract before the 2023 school year begins,” Kriete stated.

For a broader scale here, the Florida Department of Education provides the average salaries for teachers in the state.

Hillsborough averages just under $54,000 and Pinellas County just over $51,000. 

The highest average teacher salary for the entire state is in Sarasota County with over $62,000.

HCTA will have a community meeting later this month to hear from the community.

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