Our students and community need strong, vibrant public schools. We know that teachers' voices can make the difference in ensuring that the resources are available to meet every student's individual needs. That's why we are shining a light on the achievements in our classrooms and the work and challenges associated with them. The narrative of Hernando's public schools belongs to all of us, and in order for the truth to be known, we need to be the ones telling our stories!
Fund Our Future, Hernando
As a statewide teacher shortage grows, our professional association is advocating for meaningful changes in state and local policies that directly impact our classrooms. Fund Our Future is an ongoing campaign to recruit and retain teachers, promote student success, and invest in our neighborhood public schools. Here in Hernando County we support local efforts to supplement state and federal funding to ensure competitive wages for educators, expand academic opportunities and increase career paths for students, and to provide the classrooms needed to support a rapidly expanding population. Together, we are proudly speaking up and speaking out for our neighborhood public schools -- and the students educated in them!
Red For Ed Wednesdays
Every Wednesday, HCTA joins teachers across the state of Florida in a visible show of support for our neighborhood public schools. We wear RED for Public Ed because we know all too well the compromises that have to be made --and the impact of those compromises on our students-- when funding for our schools is inadequate or bogged down in mandates. We wear red to call attention to the solvable problems in education. Recruiting and Retaining teachers can't be solved with flawed accountability systems. With 4,961 teacher vacancies in K12 classrooms across Florida at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, ballooning to 6,006 teacher vacancies at the start of 2022-2023, Florida schools aren't failing--FUNDING is FAILING Florida's schools!
8/31/23 Bargaining Update
With six (6) proposals exchanged over the course of a three and a half hour bargaining session, the HCTA and HCSD instructional salary negotiations culminated in a tentative agreement and a plan to move 2023-24 pay raises swiftly to ratification.
This year's agreement provides a $2,600 market adjustment for returning instructional staff who worked half a year plus one day in the 2022-23 school year. Pay for performance will add $100 for Highly Effective instructional staff and $50 for Effective instructional staff. New hires and those who worked less than half a year in the 2022-23 school year will receive a $500 bump and up to $500 more based on experience. The new starting teacher pay for Hernando Schools will be $49,500.
Instructional staff have already seen a portion of their compensation improved for the 2023-24 school year with the recalculation of referendum supplements paid through the additional millage approved by voters in 2020. Previously negotiated to assist with retention, this supplement is calculated annually based on experience in Hernando Schools.
Beyond salary improvements, HCTA and HCSD have found agreement on additional duty supplements, funding positions to support early career educators, and compensation for splitting of classes. In total, the economic adjustments represents an investment of more than $5.859 million into the instructional bargaining unit.
Ratification voting will be held at worksites across the district on September 18th, with the School Board expected to ratify on September 19th. Details of time and location for voting will be announced by HCTA Worksite Leaders. All employees of the instructional unit are eligible to vote during contract ratification.
The AFT has always been a solutions-driven union, and our new campaign, launched during TEACH on July 21, proves it once again with a fresh, practical approach to strengthening public education. As AFT President Randi Weingarten pointed out during her keynote speech, the $5 million, yearlong campaign, “Real Solutions for Kids and Communities,” stands up against attacks on public schools and offers real-world solutions to build up, rather than break down, our communities.
In AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest New York Times column, she describes what it is exactly that unions do. Though unions are the most popular they have been in decades, anti-union sentiment still thrives in red states and across the nation. “Several years ago, The Atlantic ran a story whose headline made even me, a labor leader, scratch my head: ‘Union Membership: Very Sexy,’” Weingarten writes in the column. “The gist was that higher wages, health benefits and job security—all associated with union membership—boost one’s chances of getting married. Belonging to a union doesn’t actually guarantee happily ever after, but it does help working people have a better life in the here and now.” Click through to read the full column.
HCTA's 2022 Local Candidate Screening Process Is Underway
BROOKSVILLE, FL -- April 15, 2022
While it is certainly true that ALL elections have consequences, perhaps no election is of greater consequence for our neighborhood public schools than the election of members to our local school board. More than just a governing body, the school board is entrusted with our collective vision of vibrant public schools that help EVERY child who walks through the doors achieve thier highest potential. The individuals we choose to serve the community as school board members are uniquely positioned to set policies and direct the work of district leaders in delivering that vision. And this year, Hernando County School Board Districts 1, 3 and 5 are all on the ballot.
As is customary and appropriate, Hernando Classroom Teachers' Association will be actively engaged in this year's local elections. Invitations have been emailed to all candidates vying for seats on the Hernando County School Board. Candidates are asked to submit a completed endorsement screening questionnaire by April 25th. Interviews will be held on May 14th at the HCTA office.
School Board candidate screening timelines:
4/15/22 – Invitations and candidate questionnaires forwarded to all candidates
4/25/22 – RSVP & completed questionnaires returned to committee
5/14/22 – Candidate interviews
5/24/22 – Recommendations announced
Candidates for the Hernando County School Board who have not received an email invitation to participate in the HCTA endorsement screenings are encouraged to contact HCTA as soon as possible.
Meet the 2022 Local Elections Endorsement Committee:
The members of HCTA’s Local Elections Endorsement Committee provide a balanced representation of our HCTA membership.
All levels and multiple disciplines, including CTE
Experience ranging from 6 to 30 years, and a cumulative total of 138 years in teaching
Ages ranging from 29 to 65
Most with children attending or having graduated from HCSD
All residents of Hernando County
All actively engaged in community and/or union leadership
Balanced representation of party affiliations (R, D, I and NPA)
Through an open and non-partisan process, this committee endeavors to identify candidates for local offices who most align with the values and priorities of our membership. All candidates for the offices being reviewed will be invited to participate in the screening process to be considered for endorsement. To ensure recommendations of the committee best reflect the interests of members, participating candidates will be vetted using tools created from input provided through recent survey of HCTA members.
BROOKSVILLE, FL -- April 12, 2021 In a letter issued by the US Department of Education in February, states were advised that they would have flexibility in determining how to apply the results of this year's standardized tests. Since then, districts have been awaiting clarification from Tallahassee regarding what--if any--accountability components might be waived. That clarification arrived late last week when the Commissioner of Education for the state of Florida issued an Emergency Order waiving accountability standards tied to standardized tests. Read the order here:
This week, HCTA and District bargaining teams reached tentative agreement on Instructional salaries for 2020-21. The agreement combines the state’s Teacher Salary Increase Allocation (TSIA) with additional Board dollars to offer:
$46,120 minimum salary (impacting 48% of all instructional salaries)
Additional funds provided by the Board to ensure ALL instructional remain on the same salary schedule
At LEAST a 2% improvement to every teacher’s base salary
Salary improvements will be retroactive to July 1, 2020
Adjusted instructional placement schedule to ensure new hires with experience are not placed at higher salary levels than current employees with equal or greater experience
The settlement concludes a months long bargaining conversation complicated by scarcity of district funds and the statutory requirements of the TSIA. Challenges associated with the TSIA funds include:
Creation of salary compression in raising the minimum base salary
Requirements and funding for minimum base salary applying only to full-time classroom teachers, leaving out other instructional staff like School Counselors and Instructional Coaches
As other districts’ distribution plans were rejected by the FLDOE for failure to comply with statute, it became apparent that HCTA’s efforts to minimize salary compression with a ‘banded’ approach to distribution may have resulted in the state withholding funds. In absence of significant additional District funds, resolving the issue of compression became unlikely.
As a result, the bargaining team presented a proposal that sought to address our other two primary goals: maintain a single salary schedule for all instructional employees and ensure that salary improvements help offset insurance increases. The additional Board dollars included in the final agreement addressed these priorities. Ultimately, HCTA was able to improve upon the District’s initial salary improvement offer of a flat $668 minimum increase to a full 2% while also ensuring that non-classroom teachers would not be left behind on a lower salary schedule. The adjusted instructional placement schedule will ensure that new hires will not come into the District at a higher pay level than current employees with the same years of experience.
It is worth noting that the HCTA proposal also sought a significant increase ($45/month/member) in the Board’s health insurance contribution. As the benefits offered to instructional staff cannot differ from the benefits offered to other employees, the increased contribution would have required an additional $1.5 million from the Board. Citing the uncertainty of current year funding due to lower than expected student enrollment, the District was unable to commit to the additional dollars needed.
The teams also discussed the impact of the recently approved millage increase. The increase will take effect in the 2021 property tax rolls, with these new local dollars available for bargaining in the 2021-22 school year. The District acknowledged at the table the Superintendent and Board’s intent for the majority of funds raised for staff salaries to be applied to instructional salaries. The parties will continue meeting in the months ahead to plan for the distribution of referendum dollars.