January 12, 2022
OCCTA provides questions and answers on impasse at this link
READ THE SIGNED AGREEMENTS AT THIS LINK - All members of the bargaining unit will be voting on these. OCCTA is working to get the process rolling as quickly as possible. We will be updating this site as we have more information.
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
January 8, 2022
Press Release – January 8, 2022
Orange County Public Schools Finally Moves on Teacher Wages and Benefits -
School Board Enhances Compensation and Commits To Do More
After a long and tense process that began over the summer, when OCCTA declared impasse, last night the Orange County School Board finally acknowledged the need to do much more for educators. The Union initiated the legal impasse procedure for livable wage increases, longevity supplements for veteran educators, no increases to health insurance, and a supplement for Lead Nurses.
At the conclusion of two days of hard-fought public hearings on these crucial issues, the Board made real progress towards improving the District’s original salary and insurance proposals. The Union’s case included presentations by OCCTA President, Wendy Doromal; Veteran Teacher, Clinton McCracken; Lead Nurse, Laketa Jimenez; and AFT Economic Expert, Kyle Arnone. The teachers were represented by labor lawyers, Mark Richard and Lucia Piva.
There is no doubt that the Board’s decision only begins to address what educators need and deserve. The resolution of the impasse puts teachers in a much better position than they would have found themselves in had OCCTA and its members not fought back and pushed for fair treatment. The Board unanimously decided on the following improvements from the District’s original proposals:
These and other issues will be submitted to the bargaining unit members for ratification. While the Board’s decision does not address all the economic challenges faced by teachers and educators, OCCTA achieved important improvements from the District’s original position. This impasse resolution on wages and insurance represents an aggregate increase of almost $100 million in funds for teachers. Importantly, the Board has agreed with OCCTA that it must commit to taking a serious look at the budget to address the economic needs of educators and their families.
“It is regrettable that teachers had to go through such a protracted and combative legal process to make these gains. The Board should have fairly budgeted for salary increases from the start. Our legal challenge at impasse led to millions more in improved compensation for educators and a commitment to prioritize recurring teacher raises,” said OCCTA President, Wendy Doromal.
“This week’s public hearings signal a good transition towards taking care of our teachers, but there is still a lot of work left to do,” said presenter and veteran teacher Clinton McCracken.
January 5, 2022
IMPASSE HEARING - Watch on Facebook Live - https://www.facebook.com/OCCTA7448
PRESIDENT WENDY L. DOROMAL'S IMPASSE STATEMENT - JANUARY 5, 2022
Good Afternoon, School Board Chair Jacobs, Superintendent Jenkins, school board members, teachers, parents and all who are watching this hearing. We are here today because OCPS teachers are underpaid, undervalued, under-appreciated and overworked. We are here today because our school district has handed us a salary proposal that would shortchange our teachers. The District offered a basic $25 annual raise, $150 for effective teachers and $175 for highly effective teachers. That equates to a raise of between 2 and 12 cents an hour. That offer is both disrespectful and unacceptable.
In fact, the insulting salary offer actually amounts to a reduction in income. Inflation rose by 6.8% in November.1 Grocery prices were 6.4% higher last month than they were a year ago - the fastest pace of food inflation in more than a decade.2 Housing costs in Orlando have risen by 20% over the past year3, while Orlando rentals were ranked 3rd highest in the nation4 with costs rising by almost $500 a month in less than a year, representing a 40% increase.5
The truth is that educators can no longer afford to work for OCPS. They cannot afford the financial hardship that forces many to work part-time jobs and endure the stress of financial uncertainty. They cannot afford the cost to their physical and mental health. As a result, OCPS is hemorrhaging teachers. This district is in crisis as more and more teachers leave. Over 800 teachers have resigned or retired since the beginning of this school year, and that figure does not account for the many who pledged to resign or take early retirement at the end of December. That number also does not include over 100 teachers who have taken long or short-term leave. OCPS currently has over a hundred teacher vacancies. The School Board has the ability and obligation to stop the exodus. Providing a decent salary is an essential element to keeping teachers in the classroom.
The OCPS teacher shortage is complicated by the substitute shortage. A response to a Union record request reveals that there were 15,188 unfilled substitute vacancies between August and November 2021. That means that 15,188 times this school year many students were herded into auditoriums, computer labs or other large spaces to work independently on laptops. Teachers were also asked to split classes – to take in students of absent teachers who had no subs show up to fill the vacancies. As a result, teachers had more work and less opportunity to address their own students’ learning loss. An inadequate work force that is short on qualified and experienced educators does not serve the best interests of students, teachers or the public.
OCPS has not taken the steps that are necessary to retain and recruit teachers. Over 45% of OCPS teachers who were surveyed are considering resigning, taking early retirement or taking leave. The District must commit to an immediate plan, which includes fair and regular raises, affordable health insurance, a workload that fits into the contracted workday, safe, healthy and fair working conditions, and an end to the district’s autocratic rule and unilateral control. OCPS leaders need to start listening to teachers, collaborating with teachers and giving teachers a seat at the table in decisions that impact all aspects of their job and profession. OCPS must respect teachers with action, not words. It is a sad reflection on the District that 92% of teachers surveyed stated that they did not feel supported or respected by District leaders.
The salary proposal offered by the District and endorsed by this School Board was not respectful. It was the bare minimum required by law and not one cent more. The average salary for OCPS teachers is lower than the Florida average as well as being lower than the average teacher salary of all other large districts in the state including Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Hillsborough. It is unacceptable that teachers must work another job to make up for the inadequate teaching salary. It is unacceptable that teachers must live with their parents not by choice, but because they cannot afford their own apartment on their current salary. It is unacceptable that teachers have to choose between a doctor’s visit or food. That is the reality for too many OCPS teachers.
The Special Magistrate said that the state’s Teacher Salary Increase Allocation funding (TSIA) cannot be the sole source of funding for educator raises," and that “the District is permitted to budget for salary increases and may look to other funding sources to support is efforts.” TSIA was created last year primarily to raise the teacher starting salary and to “assist school districts in their recruitment and retention of classroom teachers and other instructional personnel.” It was not intended to be the sole source of funding for raises.
School board members, I ask you, what other funding sources have you looked into to be able to budget wages this year and moving forward? Have you studied the budget lines to identify waste, unnecessary spending or over-budgeting? Have you researched how the $850 million in ESSER funds has provided savings in the general budget, freeing up money that had been budgeted for technology, replacement of HVAC systems and other expenses? Where has that amount in budgeted savings been shifted to in the district’s budget? Have you hired an independent financial expert with a fresh pair of eyes to study the finances and work with you to create a budget that includes employee raises? You cannot blame outside conditions and entities for your decisions and failures.
The District’s budget decisions reflect the District’s priorities. It is apparent that recruiting and retaining experienced teachers, as well as paying teachers a fair wage, is not a District priority. This District has followed the pattern of over-budgeting the instructional line item and putting the excess into the bloated reserves. The District keeps excessive balances in its reserve account claiming it is necessary to maintain a good credit rating. However, other districts have much lower reserves and also have maintained excellent credit ratings. The District claims that it needs a reserve balance that is figures above the state required 3% fund balance in case of an emergency or a rainy day. The emergency is now; the rainy day is here! It is pouring and because OCPS will not provide shelter from the storm teachers are leaving for other districts and other professions where they will be appreciated, valued and properly compensated.
OCPS educators have earned the respect of their peers, the parents, and the community. Their level of professionalism and the extent to which they went above and beyond to ensure academic achievement during this pandemic has been nothing less than heroic. Sadly, OCPS leadership has failed to show respect to the teachers, and in fact, has continually disrespected them. Since the pandemic began in March 2020, OCPS teachers have been working under stressful, and at times unsafe conditions risking their health and lives. They have been tasked with impossible expectations that has resulted in even more work being heaped on their already overflowing plates. Last year, OCPS teachers who were required to teach the District’s hybrid model - two classes at once - virtual and face-to-face - found themselves working many more hours than fit into the contracted workday without compensation or appreciation. While other Florida districts offered supplements to teachers who taught hybrid classes, OCPS repeatedly turned down the Union’s requests. OCPS teachers have been intentionally short-changed. The District wants to shortchange them again.
This school year teachers confirmed that their workload has continued to increase, as it has every year for over a decade. In a recent survey, which was completed by over 14% of the bargaining unit members, 92% said they must complete assigned tasks past the contracted 7.5-hour workday without compensation; 42% stated that they worked 11 or more hours a week without pay to complete the extra assignments administrators mandated. School board members who attended OCCTA-sponsored workload summits promised to address this issue. The continuance of this practice can only be viewed as intentional and disrespectful. In fact, it equates to salary cuts and should be called out for what it is - wage theft.
OCPS disrespected teachers by offering a $2,500 bonus instead of offering a fair raise. Year after year, this Union President, bargaining team members and teachers have stated that teachers need raises, not bonuses. Year after year, the District insists on offering a one-time bonus that cannot be used to get a mortgage, secure a rental, buy a car, or refinance a loan. A bonus is here today and gone tomorrow. Whether called a bonus or labelled as a supplement, it is not a raise. Recurring expenses require recurring wages. Teachers need and deserve a raise. 74% of teachers surveyed said they reject the District salary offer of a $25 COLA and a $2,500 one-time bonus.
OCPS disrespected teachers by rejecting the longevity supplement that is critical to recognize the years of service and experience of our veteran teachers. Only after the Special Magistrate ruled that the Union’s proposal should be accepted, did the District propose to fund the longevity supplement only for three years using ESSER funds. Let’s be honest - longevity means permanence. How can a supplement that will disappear after three years be called a longevity supplement? The OCPS suggestion that the veteran teachers who already are being paid unfairly would be expected to take a pay cut after three years is not acceptable. The Special Magistrate agreed that failure to provide an ongoing longevity supplement will continue harsh inequities among teachers. Therefore, he recommended that the longevity supplement be accepted. We urge the school board to accept the Special Magistrate’s recommendation. In fact, 94% of teachers surveyed support the longevity supplement as recommended by the Special Magistrate.
Another supplement that the Special Magistrate supported and OCPS rejected is the lead nurse supplement. The District’s Lead Nurses must conduct numerous duties above and beyond what is expected of other nurses, as well as overseeing dozens of clinics and having up to 100 individuals working under their professional license. The Special Magistrate recommended a 5% supplement - 5% of the Lead nurse’s salary. We urge the school board to fund this supplement for the 7 hardworking and dedicated lead nurses.
OCPS also disrespected teachers with the District’s proposal to increase insurance costs. In the recent survey 98% of respondents oppose any increase in insurance costs. In fact, the Special Magistrate said:
“During this time, the record reflects, and there is no dispute, that bargaining unit members put their own health at risk by continuing to perform their teaching duties with students on an in-person basis. In addition, the record reflects and there is no dispute that numerous teachers spend their own money to ensure that their student’s educational and safety needs are met. Moreover, the record reflects that many bargaining unit members are forced to work more than one job in order to meet the needs of their family budget.
To this Magistrate, it would be unconscionable to recommend that bargaining unit members pay more than the status quo for health care. While there may be a time to do so, now is surely not the time.
OCPS claims it must raise insurance costs to maintain the self-insured status. At the last Trustee meeting in November 2021, it was revealed that the health insurance is in the black. To maintain its self-insured status the insurance reserves account must be at 60 days. Currently, the account is at 63.44 days, with an excess of $2.3M or 3.44 days. There is absolutely no reason to raise insurance costs at this time and as the magistrate stated to do so would be unconscionable.
OCPS disrespected teachers by putting out News You Can Use messages and information to members of our bargaining unit that misrepresented the facts of the District’s salary proposal. Even though the Union corrected the facts, the District and even school board members continued to refer teachers to the OCPS website link that provided distorted and faulty information.
It is true that you fund what you value. We are asking you to show that you truly value teachers. You cannot do right by students if you do not do right by teachers. Students cannot be first if teachers are last. OCCTA and the 14,300 teachers it represents implore the School Board to give the educators the salary, benefits and working conditions that they deserve.
1U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, TED: The Economics Daily, 12-15-21 (https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/consumer-prices-up-6-8-percent-for-year-ended-november-2021.htm)
2CNN Business, 12-14-21(https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/14/business/grocery-store-prices-shoppers-inflation/index.html)
3Roofstock.com, 12-29-21 (https://learn.roofstock.com/blog/orlando-real-estate-market)
4Grow, 12-30-21 (https://grow.acorns.com/cities-where-rents-have-jumped-the-most-since-2020/)
5WFTV, 11-9, 21 (https://www.wftv.com/news/local/orlando-rent-skyrocketing-continues-advocates-say-sweeping-reforms-needed/5OR4JWM75FCETCHQPL63J3AGSE/)
January 3, 2022
In a recent News You Can Use and "Community Update" teachers were referred to an OCPS website that has distorted information. The charts and information below should help you to understand the actual facts:
December 9, 2021
MORE SALARY IMPASSE UPDATES: