Dispute over teacher pay continues in Brevard County


BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A dispute over teacher pay has brought negotiations between Brevard Public Schools and the Brevard Federation of Teachers to a standstill.

The union claims the district used money earmarked for pay raises to close its budget gap, but the district insists it didn't break any rules.

It will now be up to a mediator to decide whose argument has the most merit.

Earlier this week, Gov. Rick Scott urged school districts like Brevard to finalize teacher pay, after making pay hikes a top legislative priority.

Brevard Public Schools is scheduled to receive over $12 million in the teacher salary allocation for the 2013-2014budget, but how that money is distributed has become a real sticking point between the district and the federation.

"The district brought to the table a plan where they could roll back $5 million in budget cuts by spending some of that money," said Dan Bennett of the Brevard Federation of Teachers. "We saw that right away for what it was, not to spend the money properly on teacher and administrative raises."

In a letter to the governor's office, the union claims a portion of the money earmarked for raises went to things like athletics, the elimination of administrator furlough days and other items. 

But the way the district interprets the issue is that the new funds could be inclusive of "previously bargained" salary increases for 2013-2014, and that's not sitting well with the union.

"When these new dollars came to the county, the district wanted us to give back that 1.5 percent raise and begin our negotiating point before we receive that raise," said Bennett.

Last month, a special magistrate listened to arguments from both sides and is expected to make a non-binding recommendation later this month.