In historic first, St. Johns County teachers vote down pay raise because it wasn’t enough

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Florida. – St. Johns County teachers have rejected a proposed pay rise, with many saying the increase was not big enough.

The union’s rejection of the proposal was historic. The St. Johns County Teachers’ Union has been around since 1975 and has never voted against a pay rise – until last week.

While the St. Johns County School District consistently ranks among the best school systems in the state, state data shows that typical teacher salaries are well below the state average.

After weeks of negotiations, the district and the St. Johns Education Association reached a tentative agreement that would have raised teachers’ starting salaries to $48,200 and given a majority of teachers a $1,260 raise.

But before it came into effect, it had to be voted on by union members. With a record turnout, 77% of teachers’ union members voted against ratifying the agreement.

Here is a detailed breakdown of the rejected proposal:

  • All incoming teachers with 0-10 years of experience earn the same salary

  • Entry-level teacher salary = $48,209

  • Highly Effective and Effective Grandfathered Increase = $945

  • Pay for effective performance increase = $945

  • Highly effective pay-for-performance increase = $1,260

According to the union, about 70% of teachers in the district are generally rated “very effective.”

Union negotiator and St. Johns County High School teacher Morgan Mousley said the union asked for more than double the $1,260 wage increase, but the district did not budget.

“We didn’t think what we were asking was that important,” Mousley said. “And, you know, we were trying to listen to their concerns, and I feel like they haven’t necessarily listened to our concerns, which our concerns are that teachers aren’t a priority right now.”

The union said part of those concerns included the high cost of living in St. Johns County and the need to raise salaries for veteran teachers.

“We’re the number one district in the state, and teachers aren’t paid as such,” Mousley said.

In fact, according to the most recent data from last school year, St. Johns County ranked 41st out of 67 Florida school districts in median teacher salary.

The union said the district claims it’s broke and doesn’t want to deplete its current fund balance. But Mousley said the district’s fund balance is 7.7%, which is only required by law at 3%.

“We want the district to find more money because they have it, we’ve seen it,” Mousley said.

News4JAX contacted the district and a spokesperson released a statement, “We are currently still in negotiations with SJEA and are working to schedule a time when they can submit a proposal.”

The district and the union will have to return to the bargaining table, which could take place in December.

The negotiations come as the district still faces a teacher shortage.

As of this week, there are 68 teaching vacancies in the district. This is on average just over one vacancy per school.

Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX – All Rights Reserved.

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In historic first, St. Johns County teachers vote down pay raise because it wasn’t enough

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