PEMBROKE PINES (CBSMiami) – A four long negotiation Tuesday afternoon ended with an agreement between The City of Pembroke Pines and the Broward Teachers Union over whether or not to privatize the city’s financially struggling, but A-rated charter school system.
According to the Sun Sentinel, more than 300 teachers will not be losing their jobs and parents won’t have to worry day-to-day operations of the city’s charter system will be privatized.
Here’s what was agreed upon: Teachers will give up last year’s raise and paid according to the Broward County Public Schools pay scale.
That means a pay cut for two-thirds of the teachers.
Also, the new agreement will not allow Pembroke Pines to contract with a management company for the operation of the schools for at least two more years.
In the end, many teachers said they would rather lose pay than be ‘sold out’ to a management company.
The pay cut amounts to about $3,300 for each teacher and teachers with more than 20-years-experience could lose $20,000 a year.
The question of whether to privatize the city run charter schools followed contract disputes between the Broward Teachers Union and city leaders who said the city doesn’t have enough money to run the highly-successful Pines Charter schools unless there are major salary cuts for the city’s 375 teachers.
Pines leaders have been warning that the city’s seven-school charter system for months that it was struggling financially. In recent weeks, the city asked its teachers, who are represented by BTU, to accept a pay cut that would cause them to be paid less than teachers who work for the much-larger Broward School District.
Leaders of the teachers’ union refused to go along with the salary reductions.
As a result, Pembroke Pines city officials responded with the surprise plan to privatize by partnering with Charter Schools, USA, a Fort Lauderdale-based firm that is one of the nation’s largest for-profit charter school companies.
Teachers did meet with BTU officials Monday and said they were willing to forgo their current contract if the city voted against the privatization plan.
The move to privatize was spearheaded by Pines City Manager Charlie Dodge, who also oversees the city’s charter schools. He sent a mass email Monday that sought to reassure parents. Dodge wrote that the schools were struggling to close a $2.1 million deficit, and he blasted the teachers union for insisting on more teacher raises as opposed to trying to find a workable budget solution.
Dodge’s email downplayed the massive staff turnover that’s expected if Charter Schools, USA is brought in. The city manager noted that the same school principals and vice-principals will remain, and “teachers will have the opportunity to be re-employed by this new organization.”
The Sun Sentinel reports City Manager Charlie Dodge said Tuesday’s agreement resolves the long-term financial problems facing the system.
Dodge added, the move to change to the Broward County Public Schools pay scale saves a million dollars and makes up for the budget shortfall.
The Pines charter schools, which include 5,600 students, are funded through state tax dollars and are not private schools.
When it comes to the source of the charters’ overall budget problems, Pines city leaders have blamed years of cuts to state education funding, along with the refusal of Broward’s school district to share capital-improvement dollars that it receives through local property taxes.
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