MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Teachers in Miami-Dade are on their way to a raise.

United Teachers of Dade (UTD) and the MiamiDadeSchool District reached a tentative agreement Monday giving a raise to Miami Dade teachers and other educational support professionals.

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“This is an important step in the right direction,” said UTD President Fedrick Ingram. “Miami’s teachers and support staff sacrifice so much.”

“For the first time in five years people will actually realize and see something positive on their paycheck for a change and that’s important,” said Antonio White, who teaches business technology education at Jose Marti MAST 6-12 Academy and sits on the executive board of UTD.

According to the teachers’ union, it’s a $70 million dollar deal with a 6.5 percent average raise.   Most teachers we talked to say it’s a step in the right direction, though some are disappointed it’s not the $2500 raise Governor Rick Scott promised earlier in the year.

“He promised $2,500 to every teacher but didn’t send the resources to do that,” said White.

The tentative agreement, which still must be approved by the UTD members, gives classroom teachers a combination of recurring salary raises, pay supplements, and Race To The Top funds. While the combination varies, every teacher is assured to receive a package greater than the current pay step scale, which is not guaranteed but must be agreed to year by year.

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“The minimum for beginning teacher will be approximately $1,300 but what we were able to ensure is everybody is able to get a full step at the bare minimum and at least close to that $2,500 expectation that has been built up across the state,” said White.

The professionals who support teachers, Education Support Personnel (ESPs), office clerical staff and security monitors will also see salary improvements and a pay supplement.

“It’s time to honor some of the hardest working people in America our teachers our paraprofessionals and we decided to do so, said Alberto Carvalho, the Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent.

White  says better pay does make a difference in the classroom.

“I would think if you would want children to have the best working conditions you’d need to provide better working conditions for those who teach children,” he said, adding, “It’s kind of hard to stay focused taking care of someone else’s child every day when you’re worried about how you’re going to make do with your own.”

The union members will hold a vote on the deal later this month.

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