Palm Beach County teachers may soon see raises and bonuses thanks to a pending contract

Teachers who have a ‘reading endorsement’ added to their license can get a $1,100 bonus.

Palm Beach Post | By Giuseppe Sabella | September 22, 2022

Palm Beach County teachers stand to earn raises and bonuses under a pending agreement between the union and the school district.     

On average, teachers could expect to see a 3.5% salary increase. The actual amount, however, depends on a host of factors and will vary between teachers, said Justin Katz, president of the Classroom Teachers Association.      

Florida law dictates how teachers are paid based on when their employment started, how they fared on performance evaluations and the type of contract they work under, Katz said.      

According to the school district’s 2023 budget, local teachers currently make anywhere from $48,175 to $97,024, with the average person earning $56,095.      

The raises — which would be retroactive to July 1 — were approved by the school board Wednesday and will be followed by a vote of everyone in the bargaining unit in the weeks to come.  

Once ratified, the agreement would provide a one-time payment of $1,500 to all full-time teachers, or a bonus worth 3% of their base salary — whichever is greater. And part-time teachers would receive a prorated amount.    

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, a form of federal pandemic relief, would finance the one-time, across-the-board teacher bonuses.   

That money can be used to “address educator shortages exacerbated by the pandemic,” which includes “improving compensation to recruit and retain educators,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.    

The agreement would also extend a new $1,000 supplement to nearly 1,900 exceptional student education (ESE) teachers, who serve students with disabilities.    

Teachers who bolster reading could get $1,100 bonus

And it would expand the number of teachers who qualify for a bonus meant to strengthen the district’s reading instruction.    

Teachers who have a “reading endorsement” added to their license through the state Education Department, either now or in the future, will receive a one-time payment of $1,103.    

Though a reading endorsement is not required to teach in Florida, it is required when teaching reading to certain students, such as children who need intensive help and third graders who get held back after failing the state’s English language arts test.

Previously, the district offered the bonus only to secondary teachers who held the endorsement, which requires teachers to complete several courses. 

The pending agreement would extend that offer to elementary teachers.   

All of. the new contract provisions are expected to cost the district about $58 million, which is covered by local, state and federal dollars, including the pandemic relief funds.  

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