ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — Teachers in Escambia County could see their salaries increase to $47,500 in July 2023, after Escambia County Public Schools and the Escambia Education Association reached an agreement, Dec. 7.

According to ECPS, the new minimum salary for teachers will increase from $44,100 to $45,500, which is a 3.17 percent increase, which will impact approximately 900 teachers in the system. The starting salary of $47,500 will begin July 1, 2023, and will improve the salaries of more than 1,900 teachers, approximately 70 percent of ECPS instructional staff, according to the school system.

“I am happy that this is settled and that we have come to an agreement,” EEA President Darzell Warren said. “We didn’t get everything that we wanted or as much as we would have liked, but knowing that next year the starting salary will be at $47,500, it will ease some of the laws that are tying our hands when it comes to negotiating better pay for our veteran teachers. It’s a good start.”

ECPS said beyond the minimum salary increase, all teachers hired prior to July 1, 2011, and have opted to stay on the “Grandfather” salary schedule, will receive the appropriate level increase to guarantee no less than a two percent raise. These teachers will also receive an additional $200 based on a performance rating of “Effective” or “Highly Effective” from the 2021-2022 year. 

“All other teachers will receive the appropriate level increase to guarantee no less than a three percent raise,” ECPS said in a release. “This commitment of a percent increase will guarantee those teachers making at or below the new minimum salary to still receive an equitable raise. Returning teachers with an ‘Effective’ or ‘Highly Effective’ rating from the ‘21-22 year will receive an additional $200 or $400, respectively.”

The school system said all instructional staff will receive a one-time $1,000 Retention Supplement before the end of the school year, and all teachers of Exceptional Student Education (ESE) will receive a $300 supplement added to their salaries. 

The total value of this salary increase for all instructional staff is $9.7 million, according to ECPS.

Even with the increase in pay, Warren said after talking with teachers there are still some who are disappointed.

“Some are angry that veteran teachers did not get as big of a bonus,” Warren said. “But knowing that we have settled and knowing that we do not have to wait any longer is a relief. What people need to understand is the laws that were put forth by this state have made it difficult for us to be able to negotiate giving our veteran teachers a higher increase than anyone who is coming new into the career field. It is also making us compress where the same person who is coming new into the career field is making the same as someone who has been in the position for more than 10 years. I need people to understand that these are laws put into place by the governor and law makers. We need to make sure that the people who represent us know that it is great that the people coming in are going to be making $47,500, but what are you going to do about the veteran teachers who have dedicated their lives to this career field.”

According to the school system, the EEA will implement the ratification process for this agreement in all schools and work sites across the district. EEA representatives will construct a ballot and ensure all teachers have the opportunity to vote in agreement or disagreement with the settlement. For this year, the ballot will also include an opportunity for teachers to provide input on the potential movement from having 12 pay periods to a 24 pay period, bi-monthly payroll option. Both parties agreed if the majority of the teachers agree, the District can begin implementation on this change the following school year.

Although the school system is increasing their pay, they are still behind surrounding districts, with Santa Rosa County already being at $47,500 and Okaloosa County being at $49,017.