Teacher union okays 6% raise

The contract still must be approved by the School Board.

By TOM MARSHALL, Times Staff Writer
Published December 16, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - Hernando County teachers have overwhelmingly approved a new contract offer, union officials said late Friday.

With all but one of the district's 21 schools reporting, and a record-breaking turnout, 97 percent of voting members of the Hernando Classroom Teachers' Association union opted to approve a 6.04 percent raise, said president Joe Vitalo.

The deal also includes a 1 percent boost in health care insurance premiums. In exchange, teachers agreed to add a day of training to their contract.

With that raise, a beginning Hernando County teacher will make $34,000, better than 17 other Florida counties. Last year's starting pay was $32,000, and teachers needed seven years of experience to cross the $34,000 threshold.

Vitalo said the new contract helps the county make real gains on higher-paying Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. "We're finally closing the gap," he added.

The contract must now be ratified by the School Board, but easy approval is expected. The district is negotiating with the Hernando United School Workers on a contract for nonteaching staff, officials said.

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or 352 848-1431.