Teachers could get 4 percent raise

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By Lou Elliott Jones

Levy County teachers and staff could have a merry Christmas this year as their Dec. 20 paychecks could include a 4 percent pay raise dating back to the start of the school year and help in paying insurance premiums.

Levy School Superintendent Bob Hastings confirmed that negotiators for the Levy County School District and the Levy Education Association reached the agreement on the raises and insurance benefit in negotiations on Thursday evening. 

The agreement must clear being ratified by the association's members and the Levy County School Board. A message was left with an LEA official for comment.

“We did settle with the union for 4 percent across-the-board for teachers and pay for all of the insurance increase of $862 for the base per person per year,” Hastings said in a phone interview.

He said the tentative agreement, which must be approved by a rank and file vote of the LEA members and the Levy County School Board, includes school personnel receiving a 50 cents per hour pay increase and having their insurance increase paid as well. The 50-cent increase would amount to $1,020 per year in staff pay.

He said the cost of the overall package is “something less than $1.6 million” which was helped by a $935,000 appropriation from the Legislature “which enabled us to give a better raise than without it,” Hastings said.

He said if the employees and the board ratify the deal by Dec. 9 the district will have the back pay in checks being distributed Dec. 20.

The back pay goes to the start of school for teachers — which was Aug. 18, and for 12-month employees to the start of the year on July 1, Hastings said.

Hastings said talks on the money issues have been going on since Oct. 1.

“We've given step increases and bonuses every year except for the last year. This is the first pay increase above the step increases. It's the first time we've been able to give a pay raise since I've been in office,” Hastings said.

The district has been hamstrung by budget cuts made in the wake of the 2008 economic slowdown.

“It sure felt good to give a raise again,” Hastings said.