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!
HCTA Bargaining Update – 10/12/2020
On Monday, October 12th, the board and union teams met to continue discussions over the teacher salary allocation. HCTA offered a counter proposal to the district’s initial offer, in the hopes of reducing compression.
While the district’s proposal would push the vast majority of TSA funds to the very bottom of the pay schedule, HCTA‘s proposal seeks to create tiers within the bottom half of the pay schedule ensuring that TSA dollars are spread more equitably, establishing $45,500 as the new minimum salary, and achieving the aspirational goal of $47,500 for many. HCTA’s proposal also seeks to improve non-classroom teachers to the same levels as classroom teachers.￼￼￼￼ Finally, HCTA’s proposal requests that in addition to the TSA dollars, the school board provide a little less than a half million dollars to ensure all instructional staff receive at minimum a 2% increase this year￼
The district team expressed concern that the HCTA proposal may be rejected by the DOE or could be flagged during audit for applying a tiered/banded approach to the distribution of funds. Nevertheless, the district team agreed to take the proposal back for consideration with the understanding that HCTA clearly does not want non-classroom and classroom teachers on different pay schedules and is pushing to ensure salary improvements are not entirely negated by health insurance premium increases. It is anticipated that insurance increases will be again be necessary.
In addition, HCTA proposed an agreement which would reserve a proportionate amount of referendum dollars for instructional salaries and positions. Should the referendum pass, the actual distribution of salary dollars would be negotiated. Funds raised through a local referendum could provide flexible dollars needed to create more equitable salary improvements in future years. To learn more about the local referendum, please visit the Hernando Schools webpage.
No agreements were reached on Monday, but the teams anticipate returning to the bargaining table within days.
This week, HCTA and District bargaining teams reached tentative agreement on a comprehensive Schools Reopening MOU.
Chief among the provisions secured in the agreement are:
Access to cleaning and sanitizing supplies for classroom
Appropriate PPE for teachers commensurate with level of exposure
Restriction on the use of ESE Co-teachers for coverage during times scheduled for delivery of services
Expansion of teacher authority and protections, including prohibition of recording without teacher’s consent
Remote work plan in the event of school and/or district closure
Option of remote work in lieu of leave during quarantine resulting from on the job exposure
Protection for use of leaves associated with COVID-19
Adjustment to proration of athletic supplements in the event of season cancellation
The MOU requires that the evaluation committee (EMART) meet to review classroom observation protocols and recommend temporary adjustments to evaluation processes or criteria. Further, administrators will be trained on--and teachers will be informed of—any alterations to the process, criteria or instrument prior to the first evaluative classroom observation being conducted. Both brick-and-mortar and digital classroom assignments will be observed by administrators following the normal walkthrough/observation process in the physical setting. Evaluative observations for brick and mortar, digital home learning, and hybrid classes require the administrator’s physical presence in the room.
Additionally, employees on the District’s insurance plan will not pay out of pocket costs associated with testing and treatment of COVID-19 through December of 2020.
Though HCTA was unable to secure class size limits for traditional classroom electives (Art, Language, etc.), the District team offered assurance at the bargaining table that each site administrator has been tasked with creating school-specific plans to address safety measures for transition times, common areas, meal times, and classes with larger student numbers. It will be important that we work with admin to address concerns for areas which pose greater possibility of exposure to the virus. Please contact your HCTA worksite leader to ask for assistance in addressing these concerns as they arise.
The Reopening MOU, along with the other tentative agreements pertaining to the 2020-21 school year, can be viewed online at myHCTA.org. Remember that all other provisions of the HCTA master contract continue to apply, including planning time protection, duty-free lunch, and the 7.75 hour workday.
The parties will be reconvening in the days ahead to address the Teacher Salary Allocation. Please continue to look for updates and information from the HCTA bargaining team in September.
August 17, 2020 (BROOKSVILLE) -- As we begin this unprecedented journey embarking on the 2020-2021 school year, I just wanted to say welcome back and thank you to all Hernando County educators. Welcome Back from a summer dominated by social distancing and the inability to travel and see loved ones. Thank you to all of you who have reached out to HCTA with your questions and concerns. HCTA has diligently tried to respond with information and compassion knowing this has been a very difficult and anxiety provoking summer.
As we all return to our schools and classrooms things will look very
Take action to reduce the spread of COVID-19 so we can return to school
Target: Governor Ron DeSantis
Florida's children must not return to school campuses until steps are taken to reduce the rate of community spread in Florida. The rate of infection is growing at an alarming rate yet little is being done to slow the spread and even less is being done to support safe return to our schools. We must demand our governor take all necessary steps to slow the infection rate in our state before our children return to brick and mortar schools.
Hernando Classroom Teachers’ Association on plans to reopen schools
BROOKSVILLE –The safety of students, our members, and the community is the absolute highest priority for Hernando Classroom Teachers’ Association (HCTA). As the professional association for instructional staff in Hernando County, we are deeply troubled by the Florida Department of Education’s order to reopen schools beginning next month just as Florida emerges as a global epicenter of COVID-19 cases.
The temporary effects of statewide interventions put in place by the governor in March and April have been undermined by a dangerous rush to return to ‘normal’. Not only is Florida currently setting records for new coronavirus cases nearly every day, but more than half of the 935 coronavirus cases here in Hernando were diagnosed in just the past two weeks. We cannot afford to dismiss this data when making decisions regarding our plans to resume instruction in the month ahead.
Teachers in Hernando want to welcome students back to the classroom this school year, but we must ensure that this is done in the safest way possible. Among surveyed HCTA members, 96% reported that they were aware of district plans for reopening, yet only 27% reported that they were comfortable with a return to face-to-face instruction. Many questions remain unanswered at this time, and assurances must be offered that risk to students and staff have been addressed prior to returning to our brick and mortar settings.
HCTA acknowledges--and is appreciative of--the District’s efforts to include the association, faculty and staff voices in the reopening task force discussions. Though neither a statewide nor countywide mandate has been issued for face masks in public spaces, we cannot in good conscience claim to offer appropriate safety provisions without requiring face coverings as recommended by the CDC. By far, the most significant thing we can do to provide for social distancing on campus is to purposefully plan for smaller class sizes. We are obligated to expand access to online and remote instruction which offers students and staff a return to learning with the least risk of exposure to the virus. We also need to ensure that the plans to resume instruction are intentional in addressing educational inequities exacerbated by this public health crisis.
Above all, HCTA—and educators across Florida—are collectively calling upon the state to guarantee the needed resources and flexibility for our district(s) to make and adjust plans based upon timely data and guidance from public health and safety experts. Sustained funding from the state is essential, not just to reopen but to maintain safe, appropriate educational opportunities for students throughout the year ahead.