Polk County Public Schools and Educator Union Reach Tentative Agreement for Teacher Contract

Polk County Public Schools and Educator Union Reach Tentative Agreement for Teacher Contract

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Polk County Public schools news release graphic.

Polk County Public Schools and the Polk Education Association have reached a tentative agreement on teacher contracts for the 2019-20 school year.

Under the terms of the agreement, various changes will be made to improve working conditions for teachers, especially providing more time for lesson planning.

“I’m thankful to everyone for coming together and focusing on what we can do to make working conditions better for our teachers,” said Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd. “We heard our teachers loud and clear. They wanted more time in their classrooms to effectively prepare their lesson plans and more freedom in creating them. Ultimately, our students will achieve higher academic success if our teachers have the necessary time to strategically plan their instruction.”

Under the tentative agreement, teacher salaries remain frozen for the 2019-20 school year. A salary freeze is also in effect under contracts recently approved with all other bargaining groups representing paraeducators, clerical support personnel, bus drivers and attendants, school nutrition assistants, and custodial and maintenance employees.

Approximately $10 million that could have been used for employee salaries instead has been invested into the insurance plan to keep health care costs manageable. Employee dependent and spousal premium costs will not increase for PCPS’ self-funded health plan. The School Board covers the employee monthly premium so coverage is provided at no cost to the district’s approximately 18,000 active employees.

Given the district’s bleak financial situation, PEA President Stephanie Yocum said negotiators focused on how to give more planning time and freedom back to teachers to develop lessons for their students.

“I’m proud of the hard fought language the PEA bargaining team was able to secure for our teachers who work tirelessly every day for our students,” said Yocum. “This tentatively agreed to language returns significant amounts of time and autonomy back where it belongs, to our teachers.”

Teachers will vote on whether to ratify the tentative agreements. A date has not yet been scheduled.  If ratified, the contract must then go before the School Board for consideration and approval.

Below are some highlights from the tentative agreement for the teacher contract:

 

Working Conditions

 

Current Teacher Contract New Tentatively Agreed Upon Language
3 self-directed planning periods in a week with 2 principal-directed days, 1 collaborative planning and 1 professional learning community 4 self-directed planning periods in a week with 1 principal-directed day to use for collaborative planning, professional learning community, or other data gathering
On short weeks due to holiday or staff development, get 3 self-directed planning and 1 collaborative planning, no professional learning community On short weeks due to holiday or staff development, get 4 self-directed planning and no principal-directed day
No current language to address equity in scheduling of student accommodation plan meetings Principal or designee must make a good faith effort to ensure equitable scheduling among the faculty for any accommodation plan meetings
No current language to address planning time during testing Teachers must receive an average of 45 minutes of self-directed planning each day during every week impacted from state testing
No current language for the specific statutory process to address the procedure for requesting the removal of a student outlined in Florida law Placement Review Committee in contract per Florida law with parameters of what documentation the committee could review from the teacher
No current language to address lesson plan requirements Contract protects teacher autonomy in lesson planning. The principal could be more prescriptive if the teacher is a category 1, is on an Instructional Assistance Conference form or Professional Development Plan for lesson planning, or earned a “Needs Improvement” or “Unsatisfactory” on the previous year’s overall evaluation.

*Per Florida statute, teachers at turnaround schools could have lesson plan formats per the External Operator, but now those formats would have to be bargained with a memorandum of understanding, not just mandated.*

 

Category 1- Any classroom teacher that is new to the profession or new to the district regardless of the years of teaching experience and Florida Professional Educator Certification credentials, or any teacher that holds a Temporary Teaching Certificate.

 

School Calendar

Current Teacher Contract New Tentatively Agreed Upon Language
Up to 90 minutes of principal-directed time during teacher work day One meeting for no more than 60 consecutive minutes
7 Early Release Days: 4 days for teacher work time, 3 days for staff development time 7 Early Release Days: 6 days for teacher work time, 1 day for staff development in March for state testing training

 

Teacher Rights

Current Teacher Contract New Tentatively Agreed Upon Language
Non Discrimination: The provisions of this agreement shall be applied without regard to race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, or marital status.

 

The employer will not discriminate against any applicant or employee in job assignment and employee/employer relations on the basis of age, gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, marital status, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, disability, or membership or participation in the normal activities of the PEA.

 

Transfers and Changes in Assignment

Current Teacher Contract New Tentatively Agreed Upon Language
No current language to address A teacher who qualifies for a “hardship” transfer will be guaranteed an interview for a district-determined vacancy once per hardship transfer during the current school year in which the hardship request was approved.
No current language to address A principal will only be notified of an employee’s intent to transfer ten (10) workdays after the teacher has filed the intent to transfer form.

 

 

Evaluation Manual

Current Teacher Contract

New Tentatively Agreed Upon Language
No current language to address this timeline The principal or their designee must not electronically finalize another observation until 5 working days have passed since the last finalized observation.