Breaking News
More () »

900 certified teachers to miss out on 'Best and Brightest' bonus in Duval County

The Clay County Teachers Union is threatening a lawsuit over how 'Best and Brightest' bonus is paid out.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- How teachers are paid is now a rallying cry on protest lines across the country. Perhaps a snapshot of the state of public education.

"I would never be in this profession if I started today, never," said Renna Lee Paiva.

Pavia, a veteran educator, and President of Clay County Education Association finds Florida's "Best and Brightest' teacher bonus program appalling.

"They're saying that you're not important," she said.

It went into effect last year. The plan only provides a bonus to teachers in the classroom who are effective or highly effective.

"The intent was to attract the best and retain the best," said Senator Aaron Bean. "It was for classroom teachers only.

Now many state-certified teachers are discovering that they are not eligible for the extra pay. Among those not on the list: Math coaches, reading coachers, deans, counselors, media specialists, social workers and psychologists.

"They're not in a classroom where they have those kids assigned to them on the roster, but they are state certified teachers," Paiva said.

In Clay County, more than 200 teachers are not going to get the bonus of $800 for effective and $1,200 for highly effective.

Paiva said the C.C.E.A. is poised to take the issue to court because some of those employees were job performance evaluation was based on their classroom involvement.

"We actually are trying to see whether we have a court case or not," she said.

In Duval County, 900 certified teachers will miss out on the bonus

"It is frustrating," said Warren Jones, a lot of upset employees, a lot of upset school board members because of the definition.

Jones is one of those Duval County School Board Members trying to understand the legislature's real intent.

"It was not smart of the legislature to do it that way," he said.

The question going forward is "how this impact the teacher's work ethic?"

"It could have a chilling affect on the performance of our teachers, but I doubt it we have some good employees," Jones said.

The Duval County School Board is not in a position to fund the bonuses to the tune of about $1 million.

The Superintendent's office provided this statement:

The Florida Legislature approved Best and Brightest bonuses for classroom teachers who were rated as Effective or Highly Effective on their prior year’s evaluation. The legislation and funding excluded those instructional personnel that do not meet the statutory definition of classroom teacher. In Duval County, this is approximately 900 teachers who are in the teacher bargaining unit but not considered classroom teachers (such as media specialists, psychologists and school counselors).

While these funds were paid out as required by law, we are disappointed that the legislature provided funding with such stringent guidelines. Districts were unable to exercise any flexibility with the funds that were provided.

Despite the tough financial times for public education, the Duval County School Board did approve a recurring salary increase for all teachers who were Effective or Highly Effective (including those that did not receive a Best and Brightest bonus). The recurring increase was paid to teachers last month following approval by the Board and the teachers union. This annual increase reflects this Board’s continued commitment to ensuring appropriate compensation for its employees. The amount of the recurring increase ranges from about $500 to $2,000 per employee each year.

It is our hope that in the future, districts will have the flexibility to negotiate the use of non-recurring, bonus funds with our union partners so that these funds can be equitably distributed to deserving employees. We look to our union partners to join us in advocating for these changes with the Florida Legislature.

In St. Johns County, the teachers will not miss their bonus payment, the union and the school board worked out a resolution. The Teachers Union President Michelle Dillon said she would like to see a more dedicated funding for education.

This is her statement on the issue:

In St. Johns County, our district and our union negotiated to match the $1200/$800 “Best and Brightest” bonus for our guidance counselors , media specialists, and instructional literacy coaches — the staff the state does not consider classroom teachers. We are pleased we worked together to match these funds.We wish the Florida legislature would offer REAL money to support our hardworking teachers , not a bonus , which does not go toward our base salary or retirement. I see the “Best and brightest “ bonuses as nothing more than an attempt to meddle in our collective bargaining process.

Senator Bean said the legislature may have to review this effort in the next legislative session.