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BREVARD COUNTY ― Brevard Public Schools (BPS) and the Brevard Federation of Teachers (BFT) announced their commitment towards working together to explore all possible avenues for increasing teacher pay. Both parties agree that the 2018-19 bargaining sessions were difficult and stressed the importance of working through past conflicts to achieve this shared goal for the 2019-20 school year and beyond.

As a first step in the process, BPS Superintendent Mark Mullins met with leaders from the BFT late last week to present the findings of a third-party review of the District’s retiree attrition which he initiated based on concerns raised about the disparity between BPS’s attrition numbers and those presented by the BFT.

Initially, the district reported that retirement generated approximately $1.5M in attrition which could be used for recurring raises. The review conducted by the accounting firm Carr, Riggs and Ingram, LLC., and completed on August 1, found that the method used to determine attrition inadvertently excluded various retirees from the calculations originally presented by BPS. In refining its process, the district identified an additional $1.5M in attrition for a total of $3M from all categories of employees.

During the meeting, both parties discussed how best to incorporate the additional funds into teacher salaries and agreed they would be rolled into next year’s compensation package, rather than renegotiate the 2018-19 contract which would delay the August 9 vote, compensation for teachers, and the start of bargaining for 2019-20.

“I have said all along that we will commit retirement attrition savings to employee compensation, and these additional funds put us in a better position to begin negotiations for 2019-20,” said Dr. Mark Mullins. “I appreciate the BFT’s desire to work with us to come up with a compensation package that we can proudly bring to our teachers early in the school year, and I look forward to working together in a constructive and collaborative way to seek viable solutions for this ongoing challenge.”

BFT President, Anthony Colucci elaborated on the goals for both the union and BPS.

“I am optimistic moving forward to the negotiations of the 2019-20 contract. Transparency in the budget is key to working together for not only finding every available dollar to use for compensation, but also in identifying when and how to pursue additional revenue sources to close the gaps we cannot with the current budget,” said Mr. Colucci.

The identified attrition could be used to begin the correction of the wage compression gaps that exist within the salary structures of our veteran teachers. While amounts and structures must be negotiated, the district and the union agreed to form work groups to determine long-range solutions, as well as research and identify impacts on employee compensation when employees received no raise for four years during the recession.

The work groups will be comprised of representatives from both BPS and BFT, as well as teachers and are anticipated to meet regularly. Both parties are committed to returning to the bargaining table in the beginning of September for the 2019-20 school year.

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