Fla. teachers to rally for pay raises

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OCOEE, Fla. - Hundreds of Orange County teachers are calling for the Orange County School Board to make teacher pay raises a priority.

Gov. Rick Scott was in town Tuesday at Ocoee Middle School, touting the teacher pay raises he asked for.

Scott, who made enemies when cutting a billion dollars from education in 2011, received a warmer reception Tuesday -- two years and two billion-dollar funding increases later.

The governor is celebrating getting $480 million for teacher pay raises, but that's not exactly what he asked for.

Scott wanted the pay raises to be $2,500 across the board, but legislators passed a bill that ties the raises to a controversial merit-based evaluation system that teachers argue does not give a true reflection of a teacher's performance.

Local school boards will control the money and develop a range of raises from $3,500 for teachers deemed "highly effective" to nothing for teachers who are rated "developing" or "needs improvement."

The board could also divide the money among cafeteria workers and bus drivers.

Channel 9 asked Scott if he was disappointed that not all teachers will be getting that$2,500 raise.

"Here's what I like. The legislature's put $480 million in the budget for teacher pay raises. I believe the right thing is going to happen," Scott said.

Now, it is up to local school boards to decide how the raises are distributed.

That's why the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association is asking the governor to come to its rally after his Ocoee Middle School visit.

The teachers are hoping to encourage the district to make pay raises a priority.

The teachers' rally will be from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. outside the district office on Amelia Street.

"When a teacher comes to school and they're not facing foreclosure, they're not coming from their second job working at Macy's, they're able to spend more time on their lesson plans," said Diana Moore with the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association.

"I don't think we'll be able to give teachers $2,500 across the board unless we didn't give any raises to any of our other employees," said Orange County School Board Chair Bill Sublette.

"Our intention is that all of our employees receive some kind of reward for their performance," Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said.

School board members were passing by the group of teachers protesting as they headed into a meeting Tuesday night to discuss their approach to the raises.

The bargaining process begins Friday.