Hillsborough teacher's union continues contract negotiations with school board

09/01/11 Josh Holton
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Recently teacher’s have been under fire for their allegedly generous salaries, benefits, and tenure. But since Senate Bill 736 cut teacher pay and tenure this spring, teachers are looking for ways to protect their positions. The Hillsborough Classroom Teacher’s Association continued contract negotiations with the School Board Thursday morning.

Now that tenure no longer exists under Florida law, the Hillsborough County teacher’s union is negotiating for new ways to protect due process in teacher terminations. Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins is the Executive Director of the union, and says Hillsborough never had extensive tenure for teachers to begin with.

She said the union has had to adapt their negotiations to address the new law.

And in tough economic times, she said teachers still must deal with pay cuts.

Although the union has tried to compensate for less teacher pay, Baxter-Jenkins said the school board won’t budge on the issue.

Both the union and the school board are interested in avoiding additional layoffs. And Deputy Superintendent Dan Valdez said that the school board will do all that it can to protect teacher due process during potential terminations.

Valdez said the school board is proposing a non-probationary status that would provide ample due process for teachers, and would be the new protection for teachers who would have been tenured under former law.

Teachers who have had tenure before passage of Senate Bill 736 will retain all their benefits.

Now teachers will be eligible for non-probationary status, which only contracts teachers one year at a time rather than multiple years at a time.

Neither Valdez nor the union representatives would say much about the ongoing negotiations, and Valdez said neither party will get all their demands.

Thursday marked the second month of negotiations, and teachers will continue to consider legal language proposed by the school board.

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