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LEE SCHOOLS | Teachers, district agree on new deal

Pay increases, with more experienced educators getting a higher raise, a key element of the agreement.
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Posted at 10:03 PM, Oct 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-03 21:30:40-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It's been a back and forth at the bargaining table for Lee County teachers and the school district. With 10 proposed deals, that were a no go, there was compromise on the 11th plan, Monday night.

Kevin Daly is the president of the Teacher's Association of Lee County, TALC.

"Starting salary is going up to $50,000 and then there are gradated percentages above that," Daily said, referencing the plan, tentatively passed, October 2.

The option will cost $32.8 million dollars. The salary increases, as designed in the adopted plan are as follows:

0 years: 3.65% increase
1-4 years: 5.5% increase
5-9 years: 8.5% increase
10-14 years: 9.5% increase
15-19 years: 10.5% increase
20 years or more: 11.5% increase

Teacher's with a highly effective rating will receive $667 added to their base pay. JORTC educators are included in the model.

Jill Castellano is a part of the association who says teachers deserve to be compensated well, as they're the reason for every profession.

"With inflation and the cost of living, these increases are going to help, but we still need to work to be more competitive to recruit the best teachers into the district and to retain really good teachers," Castellano said.

Compression is another issue educators want to see addressed. It's a term that defines a situation where only some teachers see a pay raise and others don't. If the district decides to raise the base pay for starting teachers, to attract more to the area for example, teachers who have committed years to the district are left out of the bump in funds. Then the salaries are closer together, and don't account for experience or district loyalty.

Teacher burnout, due to low pay, student behavior, and feeling under appreciated, are all other elements TALC and the district are working to combat, by adopting the new contract plan.

Teachers will have an opportunity to vote on if they want this plan in place by mid October. If majority approves, the plan will move forward and no longer be tentative.

"I believe teachers will be happy when they see these increases, but we still have more work to do to show teacher's that the work that we do is valued and it's important," Castellano said.