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Teacher pay in Duval bumped up to minimum of $47,500

Duval County Public Schools
Sky Lebron
/
WJCT News

Some Duval teachers will get about a $1,600 pay boost next August, under a newly approved contract between the teachers union and the Duval County School Board.

But, as with last year's contract, a new teacher and a teacher with more than a dozen years of experience could still get the same salary.

Under the contract, starting teacher salaries are being bumped from $45,891 up to $47,500, the benchmark Gov. Ron DeSantis has been pushing districts to meet.

“The push by the governor to increase teacher pay is much appreciated," the Duval Teachers United president, Terrie Brady, told the school board Tuesday. "But it ended up being a lopsided effort focused on pay for the beginning teachers that left highly qualified, experienced educators making the same, or kind of close to the same, as a first-year hire."

Experienced teachers paid the same as new ones

Teachers with between one and 14 years of experience, and a bachelor's degree, start at $47,500 under the contract. The pay scale for teachers with specialty or advanced degrees starts at a slightly higher rate.

School board member and former chair Elizabeth Andersen apologized to experienced teachers, after a unanimous school board vote approving the contract.

“I do want to say I'm sorry to the veteran teachers," Andersen said. "For a one-year teacher and a 14-year teacher ... to be making the same salary is really tough."

DeSantis and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran have touted the focus on minimum salary as a recruitment strategy.

“You're gonna have all these people who want to come to Florida because they're going to get the best compensation,” Corcoran told reporters in Jacksonville last month, after DeSantis' committed $550 million toward increasing teacher salaries in next year's state budget.

But the Florida Education Association has called the multiyear effort to increase starting salaries ineffective for retaining great teachers. In Duval County, base teacher salary was $39,500 last year.

As starting salaries have climbed more than $5,000 in the past five years, average salaries for Duval Schools employees increased by less than $500 between 2016 and 2021, according to data from the Florida Department of Education.

Minimum wage increase to $15 for school staff

In addition to the base pay increase, the School Board is bumping minimum wage for office staff and paraprofessionals to $15 an hour starting next school year, ahead of the required timelines by the Florida Legislature.

Florida's current minimum wage is $10 an hour and is set to increase a dollar a year until it reaches $15 by 2026.

One clerical worker said the promised change already helped her keep someone on staff, during a districtwide staffing shortage.

“I was able to retain a paraprofessional at our school who had already put in her two-week notice after telling her about the proposed salary increase,” Wilma Castañeda, an office assistant at Abess Park Elementary School, told the board Tuesday.

According to the district, there are currently more than 250 vacancies for paraprofessional jobs, including special needs classroom aides.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.