Broward teachers, staff to get bonuses under new contract agreed to by district, union

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David Goodhue
·3 min read
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Veteran Broward teachers will receive raises, and all teachers and educational support staff will receive a $1,500 bonus under a tentative agreement for the new school year reached between the district and the teachers union Wednesday.

The deal was made following a tense year for district staff and the administration, starting with the challenges of educating children during the COVID-19 pandemic and disagreements over mandating how and when teachers return to the physical classroom.

“I know everyone has seen management and labor have some combative situations, but when you sit back and see, you look what’s going on and what needs to be done,” Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union, said during a press conference Thursday announcing the deal. “Even though there’s management and labor, it’s still considered a family.”

The agreement still must be ratified by the union members and be approved by the school board.

The one-time, non-recurring $1,500 bonus will be given in the fall to all education professionals, including teachers, teacher aides and technical support staff, Superintendent Robert Runcie said.

“I’ve never been more proud in this district after seeing how our employees have stepped up to the challenges we’ve had,” Runcie said.

Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union, speaks to reporters Thursday, April 15, 2021, at the Kathleen C. Wright Administration Center in Fort Lauderdale, about the tentative contract deal the union reached with the school district.
Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union, speaks to reporters Thursday, April 15, 2021, at the Kathleen C. Wright Administration Center in Fort Lauderdale, about the tentative contract deal the union reached with the school district.

The district had already raised the minimum annual base salary for starting teachers to $47,500 last summer — up from $40,724, according to a Broward spokeswoman. That money came from the state’s Teacher Allocation Fund.

Under the tentative agreement, “grandfathered” teachers — those hired before July 2011 — will receive an additional .96% raise in the fall, which comes from left over money from the state’s allocation, Runcie said.

The agreement was reached the same week Runcie announced all teachers and students must return to in-person learning in the fall.

“There will be no blended, hybrid, remote option,” Runcie said in a recorded statement Wednesday.

He said the decision was reached after reviewing “the success of the district’s coronavirus safety measures and protocols,” and, also, since all teachers and staff now have the ability to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Data shows, Runcie said, that schools have not been a significant source of person-to-person spread of the virus.

Runcie also said mandating a total return to in-person learning is important because so many children struggled academically and socially while being taught remotely. He said earlier this year that nearly a third of the district’s 203,884 students were having trouble meeting adequate academic progress during the pandemic. The solution, he said, is getting everyone back in the classroom.

“Finally, our experiences this past year highlighted the academic, social and emotional challenges of many students who struggled with remote learning,” Runcie said.

At Thursday’s press conference, Runcie also addressed a letter sent Wednesday from Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to district superintendents asking them to make wearing masks in schools voluntary in the upcoming academic year.

Runcie said that the infection rate remained relatively high within Broward County, around 8%. And, as long as the county government requires facial coverings indoors and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends them, the school district is likely to follow suit.

“We’re going to do what we’ve always done and rely on the guidance we’re getting from the CDC, making sure that what we’re doing is aligned with Broward County and the benchmarks and measures that they’re taking, and we’ll just move forward from there,” Runcie said.