SARASOTA COUNTY - The largest budget in Florida's history landed on lawmakers desks Monday. It includes $1 billion in education increases. For the first time in years it could mean more money for teachers. However, it might not benefit other school related workers.
Financial Officer with the Sarasota County School District Al Weider says it looks as though $480 million could go towards performance based raises."It looks like a major portion of the dollars we are going to be getting as an increase is really going to be tied to giving a salary increase to teachers."
It could be between $2,500 and $3,500 per employee. There is a catch though. "We won't receive this money until June of 2014."
Barry Dubin with the Sarasota Classified Teachers Association represents workers in the district. He wants to know if it's a raise or a one time bonus. "The big question from the school systems point of view and from all of our points of view is if this money is going to reoccur into the next year.. If it's a salary increase are they going to continue to fund it in subsequent years."
No district employees have had a raise since 2008. Weidner says the new money only covers positions like teachers, guidance counselors, principals, and other instructional personnel. "The biggest concern personally is we have always tried to treat all our staff equitable."
Currently it would leave out roughly 40% of the district. "Bus drivers, food service, custodians, aids who work with children in the classroom everyday. Secretaries. How fair is that?" says Dubin.
The increase is around $400 per student. Now at nearly $7,000 in total per. There is also concern with how the performance based system will work. "We have a lot of questions. We have a lot more questions then answers right now," says Weidner.
This year the school district cutting positions, transportation, athletics, even an entire school to help balance the budget.Weidner says they have to come up with roughly four million dollars for increases in the Florida retirement system. "When they say they are giving us more money there is also things they've done that is going to cost us more money. Things the legislature controls. Right now I am not ready to jump up and down and have a great big party or anything."
The budget contains a pay raise or bonus for many other state workers who have not had one since 2006.
State spending would be up roughly four billion dollars next year from this years. Legislators can vote on it starting as early as Thursday.