OCPS teachers to finally get raises

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Friday ends the long fight between Orange County Public Schools and the teacher's union.

Ballots sent out to the district's 13,000 teachers are being counted, but the results are not yet in.

Regardless of the outcome, however, teachers will finally get their raises next month.

Thousands of teachers weighed in on the contract that has kept the teacher's union and the district pitted against each other throughout the school year.

The price to teachers has been a long wait for money many had hoped to get in time for Christmas.

"They'll get their well-deserved checks on June 4," said chief negotiator Scott Howat. "Finally. Second to last check of the cycle."

The contract, now decided by an independent special magistrate, was not a victory for the classroom teachers association, and left in the controversial sticking point of performance-based pay.

But President Diana Moore said the fight was worth it in the end.

A special magistrate added $4 million to the pay scale and an appeals process.

"Since he did recommend we go ahead with performance pay with only nine days of school left, that will be retroactive," said Moore. "That was a positive to have that left in our contract."

Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said it's unfortunate it took this long to get teachers their raises.

"We had one of the best raise offers in the state," she said.

Most teachers will see an additional $2,500 in their checks sent out next month. Even if teachers did not vote to ratify the contract, the school board already decided to impose the contract anyway.

If not, the money for the raises would go back to the state.