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Fight over teacher pay in St. Johns County now in front of magistrate judge

The teacher’s union and the school district can't come to an agreement when it comes to teacher salaries.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — A decision from an impasse meeting could finally put an end to negotiations to raise teacher’s salary in St. Johns County.

The starting pay for teachers in the St. Johns County school district is $47,500.00 and the average is $51,505.00. 

“We are the job that makes every other job happen," said Michelle Dillon, president of the St. Johns education association. "So I don’t know there’s a figure that I could even come up that would even pay us enough. But the process of impasse and why we are here today because the district did declare impasse. Our union, the St Johns County education association believes they have the capability to pay more."

The school district says they’ve tried to work with the teacher’s association, but they can’t make an agreement.

During negotiations last year, the school district says they offered an additional $3.5 million for teacher pay.

However, the teacher’s association wanted an additional $2.9 million dollars for a recurring cost moving forward.

The district says they do not have the funds available to do so.

“We were trying to do the right thing and really look at what they were trying to see we would never say no to them if we had data at the table that they wanted to see," said Cathy Weber, chief negotiator for the St. Johns County school district. 

Keri Gustavson, parent and PTA president at Nease High School, came to the impasse meeting to show her support for the teachers.

“As a person that’s been in this district for 8 and a half years, I came here for the schools," said Gustavson. "I came here hoping that the leadership here would keep the schools number one, and I’m afraid we're losing that rather quickly with our veteran teachers choosing to go to other professions or districts." 

There are 49 vacancies in the county as of March 9, according to the school district. 

The impasse meeting concluded Wednesday afternoon and the teacher's association says it will take several weeks until the magistrate comes up with a recommendation. 

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