MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami-Dade public school teachers are gearing up for another fight over pay at a time when the district says there is little more it can afford to give. Union bosses for the district’s 23,000 teachers declared a contract impasse this week. That means a hearing officer will listen to their arguments, make a recommendation and then leave it to the school board to decide whether there will be raises.

United Teachers of Dade president Karen Aronowitz said, “Our teachers keep coming forward year after year doing the job and yet year after year we are told there is no money for teachers.”

Contract schedules show a first year Miami-Dade teacher makes $38,500 annually. A 10 year veteran makes nearly $42,000 and at the top of the scale a teacher on the job for 22 years earns about $68,000 per year. All the years in between are supposed to include annual steps up the pay ladder, small ones at first than bigger ones later in a teacher’s career.

The union argues the step-up in pay—ranging from a few hundred dollars annually to thousands of dollars for long time teaching veterans– is overdue but administrators say they just can’t afford it.

“The teachers are asking for a two-step increase. That would cost the district $109.5 million and that would be a permanent increase,” said Miami-Dade public schools spokesman John Schuster.

The school district is already bracing for the end of federal stimulus money. That will cost the district about $125 million next year. There is also talk about the looming state budget deficit—tabbed as high as $3 billion. It all adds up to major budget uncertainty.

Miami-Dade administrators say they best they can do is offer teachers a one time, one-percent bonus. That would amount to several hundred dollars per teacher.

“It would be irresponsible for the school district at this time to take on something (more) that would burden taxpayers in our county,” said Schuster.

“The people that work for our schools are taxpayers and what we are saying is that, as part of the budget, we have to be budgeted in and (yet) we are never budgeted in,” Aronowitz retorted.

Get ready. It is a story you will hear often next year and it will not be confined to Miami-Dade schoolteachers. The end of federal stimulus dollars combined with still depressed property tax values will leave everybody from school districts to state lawmakers scrambling, and fighting, over every single dollar.

Comments (3)
  1. shawn beightol says:

    Step increases cost nothing if the population curve is “standard” – every year about 1000 teachers retire, every teacher should then move up 1 step to replace the more senior teacher. Each year, 1000 new teachers are hired.

    The district and union negotiated this contract. The theoretical cost of advancing all teachers, hiring new ones at the front and retiring old ones at the rear is ZERO.

    The district is using the denial of steps, not to maintain costs, but to lower costs for their human resources, all of whom are facing stiffer financial times themselves.

    A deal is a deal.

    Move the teachers through their steps.

  2. Can't be Fooled says:

    Teachers need to be happy they have a job.

    A starting teacher gets paid $38,500. for 10 months of work.
    This is equivian t to $46,200 if they worked a normal 12 month job.

    The teachers new what they were getting into when they decvided to become teachers. 10 months with the summers office.

    Please lets be honest when portraying what teachers are making.

  3. Respect the Profession says:

    This money that is denied to teachers year after year is not a raise; it’s a step which pays one for their experience. How do you have a first year teacher and a third year teacher separated by a mere $300 in salary? The fact is the teacher’s work day does not end when the school bell rings. The average teacher takes home papers to grade or plans lessons beyond the school day. I spend anywhere between 1-3 hours a day doing work that I don’t have time to do in class since I am busy teaching students. The fact that teachers have to fight to gain pay with every year of experience earned is insulting. Every year more and more is expected of teachers; we should be paid for our hard work and efforts.

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