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2019-2020 Changes to Best & Brightest

How is the Best and Brightest award different in 2019-2020?   As part of Senate Bill 7070, all of the previous requirements for Best and Brightest were scrapped, and the program now has three components, Recruitment, Retention and Recognition. Only the Recognition portion of the award is subject to collective bargaining.

Recruitment will be a one-time bonus of up to $4000. Award is for newly hired K-12 classroom teacher who is a “content expert” in mathematics, science, computer science, reading or civics.” Neither the term “newly-hired” nor “content expert”


As is true of every year's bargaining efforts, HCTA is dedicated to ensuring all educators in Hernando Schools receive substantive and equitable pay raises. Each year seems to present a different set of challenges--performance pay requirements, Best & Brightest bonuses, etc--and this year is no exception.

The Teacher Salary Increase Allocation (TSA for short) is the latest iteration of legislatively mandated contraints on the bargaining of teacher salaries. The TSA funds are provided in the state budget for the purpose of increasing the minimum base salary for full-time classroom teachers as


August 2, 2021 - Bargaining Update

Tentative agreements have been reached regarding the addition of athletic supplements for new girls’ sports and clarification of priority for choice placement of employees’ kids at the school where the bargaining unit member works. The district team also indicated that they are gathering information regarding how parity bonuses might be paid to instructional staff left out of the state’s $1000 relief payments, though no agreement has been signed yet.

Given the current spike in the number of COVID infections in the community, HCTA proposed that the district offer 10 days of emergency sick leave again this year. It was noted that the district would be meeting with the health department later this week and that more information regarding health and safety measures may be available then. For now, it is expected that sanitizing of buses and high-touch areas will continue along with other precautionary routines, but teachers may rest assured that there is NO plan to continue Hybrid classrooms!

The likelihood that protocols and procedures will evolve with changes in the community's COVID conditions is high. We encourage our members to stay vigilant and inform HCTA leadership of any specific concerns as they arise. We will continue to provide bargaining updates through home email and social media. If you are not already receiving these communications, please ask your worksite leader to confirm your contact info and help you connect with our private FB group for members.

In the coming weeks, we will begin addressing the Teacher Salary Increase funds. This year's funds are legislated to AGAIN be distributed primarily to lifting the minimum base salary. 

Next scheduled bargaining session will be a joint meeting with HUSW to discuss the local referendum funds on August 25th.

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:

FLDOE Emergency

BROOKSVILLE, FL -- March 29, 2020    As the top administrator for the school district, the Superintendent is in the position to oversee day-to-day operations of our schools, direct the implementation of programs, make recommendations for staffing changes, and enforce Board policies. The selection of the Superintendent of Schools is undeniably a matter of great importance to educators, and changes to how the position is to be filled must be considered with care.
Hernando's legislative delegation has set about promoting HB 1635--a bill which would place a referendum on the 2022 ballot asking

HCTA Bargaining Update - 11/9/2020

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.

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. 

It is worth noting that the challenges associated with achieving equitable salary improvements can be attributed to the statutory requirements which limit flexibility of funds. You can learn more about the TSA on the HCTA website:

Sept 30th: Day of Solidarity

August 28, 2020 - HCTA Bargaining Update

HCTA Bargaining Update – 8/28/2020

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 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.

July 30, 2020 - HCTA Bargaining Update

7/30/2020 - On Wednesday, HCTA and HUSW met in a joint bargaining session with the HCSD team at the request of HCTA to find five days during the first semester to exchange for the week of June 14-18. The proposal would have placed days of instruction where they are needed most--earlier in the year and ahead of the state testing window.


While HCTA and HUSW were able to find four mutually agreed upon days that would have ended the school year on June 14th (a definite compromise), HCTA was not able to sign the Memorandum of Understanding when the district team attached loss of pay and disciplinary action to any staff who took the four identified days off without an excuse from a healthcare provider.  The inability of HCTA and HUSW to agree to these penalties resulted in no agreement at the table on ending the school year earlier than June 18th.


The calendar committee will meet next week and will make a recommendation to the school board regarding the revised calendar, as the end of quarter timeframes still need to be adjusted. Regardless of recommendations from the calendar committee, final disposition of the school calendar is the decision of the school board.


HCTA and HCSD signed a memorandum of understanding regarding compensation and working conditions for teaching a hybrid class in which students would be physically present in the room and online simultaneously. The agreement allows flexibility needed to offer access to specialized courses and programs to students who cannot be on campus--with the intent to preserve FTE to protect teacher allocations--while limiting the implementation of hybrid model classrooms. (The signed agreement can be accessed on the HCTA website)


Additional discussion focused on the need for the temporary assignment of teachers to the e-school setting to provide instruction for students whose parents selected the Hernando e-school option. This discussion is still in progress.  If you indicated on the online survey that you would be willing to teach e-school, watch your district e-mail for information regarding these positions.  If you indicated your willingness to teach e-school, but there is not a position matching your certification, you will NOT receive the e-school email.


Many families did not respond to the district survey to choose brick and mortar, distance learning, or e-school.  If you are available to donate a couple of hours to your school to call parents regarding their choice, please reach out to your principal to find out if help is needed.  We need to alert parents to their options to reduce the likelihood of instructional positions lost due to parents not returning their children to school online or in person.  If overall enrollment declines, the number of staff needed also declines.


The next bargaining session will occur on August 6, 2020 at 9:00 in the HCSD board room.