By ALICIA LEONARD
DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, FL —– Walton County Education Association (WCEA) and Walton County School District (WCSD) negotiation teams held their seventh round of talks on the evening of Oct. 11, 2016.
Some headway was made between the teams during the nearly-three hour meeting.
Among agreements signed were requests for new teacher mentoring involving the selection process and payment for said mentors. Planning time protection for elementary school teachers was another item on which the two groups found their positions close enough to sign an agreement.
Involuntary transfer protections for teachers not certified in the subjects they have been assigned to teach got much discussion, and will need further adjustments to language before both sides feel comfortable with that item.
An agreement was signed that will allow teachers free admission to two schools’ athletic events during the year.
Once some of these points were smoothed out the discussions finally turned to salary negotiations. Late in the evening, the round of talks became almost a point of contention over time rather than figures. The leader for the WCSD team wanted to continue on with the negotiations, with the WCEA team asking for a fresh start after the three-hour round and requesting a new date. The reason cited was that many of the teachers would need to be at work early the next morning and had travel times back home to account for that night.
Both teams had some back-and-forth on why it was imperative now to discuss the salary offer when it took so many rounds before to reach an agreement over smaller items such as the ones signed that night.
Numbers were briefly discussed, with the the usual yearly step increase plus $850. WCEA put forth their offer asking for yearly step increase plus $3,200. Discussion ensured briefly over the figures, as well as their source and comparison to surrounding counties or similar districts, and the average salary of teachers.
After a little more sparring between the team leaders about whether to carry on or reschedule, a new date to discuss salaries was set for Oct. 27 at 5 p.m. at the district’s Tivoli Building in DeFuniak Springs. To learn more about the WCEA go to www.waltoncountyeducationassociation.weebly.com, and for the district, go to www.walton.k12.fl.us.
The negotiations are open to the public to attend, and any agreements signed will have to come up for a vote from the teachers, before coming up for a vote from the school board, before being put into place.
By ALICIA LEONARD