Broward County School Board and Broward Teachers Union reach tentative agreement
By Charles Moseley
After four months of intense negotiations between the School Board of Broward County and Broward Teachers Union, Broward Public School teachers who have not had a raise in four years, received some welcome news from Broward School Board Superintendent Robert Runcie. Runcie announced that a tentative agreement had been reached between the Broward County School Board and Broward Teachers Union (BTU) during a press conference held this past Tuesday afternoon, in the Broward School Board meeting chambers.
Runcie stood before Broward School Board members, BTU representatives, and school staff members, some of whom had participated in the negotiation process
“We are able to move for-ward in a positive direction for this school year, despite our limited financial resources,” said Runcie.
“This year’s agreement represents ongoing dialog that is critical to establishing the highest level of quality instruction for our students, while maintaining fair working conditions, adding some 900 teaching employee positions, and retaining the most qualified teachers in our classrooms,” added Runcie.
The agreement calls for a 2 percent annual salary increase for staff represented by the BTU effective Jan. 1, 2013.
The agreement which was called “significant” by BTU Administrator John Tarka, will provide a total of $8½ million in additional funds for salary increases and an additional $ three million in bonuses scheduled for allocation next year. The agreement calls for an additional $500 in increased salary for instructional staff on the salary schedule’s top step. Employees on steps one-16 will receive an additional bonus.
Superintendent Runcie spoke optimistically concerning the immediate future of the school system. He said that teacher retention would be bolstered, healthcare redesign, and implementing the teacher evaluation system would be among those issues which would receive greater immediate attention.
BTU spokesperson John Tarka also appeared pleased with the results of the tentative agreement which he said reflected compromise between the union and School Board and although they had not gotten everything they wanted, he pledged to continue to work toward addressing additional is-sues of concern by teachers.
“Reaching today’s tentative agreement resulted from months of hard work by both the Union and District negotiators,” said Tarka. “After going four years without a raise, the tentative agreement is an important first step in moving the Union and District forward in a positive direction. All contract negotiations are a give and take, but I believe each side can take satisfaction in this tentative agreement considering that the current economy is still slowly improving.”
School Board member Benjamin Williams agreed that the decision to give the teachers a raise would certainly boost teacher moral and result in a win- win situation for all concerned parties.
“I think that the news that an agreement had been made was great because over the past four years we’ve been going through this process. With the superintendent that we have here and with this school board we’ve decided to move forward and do whatever we can do for the teachers. It’s a new era and I think that it’s given the staff and the teachers an opportunity that they needed.”
“I think that our teachers are fantastic,” added Williams.