Education Staff Professionals (ESPs) are valued and critical members of every public-school community.  Even with an increase in minimum wages, we know that way too many ESPs continue to earn below or near poverty level wages and continue to live paycheck to paycheck; some working two or more jobs, just to make ends meet.

On November 17, 2022, bargaining meeting with the School District of Osceola County (SDOC) your Osceola County Education Association ESP Team presented a proposal for an 8.7% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for all ESPs.  On January 19, 2023, we received a counterproposal from the SDOC offering a one-time supplement of $500.  At this time, OCEA has NOT accepted this offer.

A Cost-of-Living Adjustment is an increase in your pay or benefits that is often based on the rising cost of goods and services; what is known as inflation.  The COLA provides a way to offset inflation.

Read this excerpt from Florida Education Association (FEA) dated September 2022:

By August 2022, the situation was worse. FEA tallied a total of 10,771 advertised vacancies, with 6,006 for teachers and 4,765 for support staff — teacher aides, Exceptional Student Education (ESE) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) paraprofessionals, bus drivers, food-service staff, custodians and other essential employees. 

Why schools can’t attract and keep enough teachers and staff

There are several reasons for the shortages:

  • Pay, with Florida ranking in the bottom five nationally for teacher salaries and many of our education staff professionals earning poverty wages.
  • Lack of support.
  • Lack of flexibility in instruction and the need to “teach to the test.”
  • Lack of multi-year contracts for teachers, which means that qualified, experienced educators face getting a “pink slip” every year.
  • Overcrowded classrooms

We need to let SDOC know how important this COLA would be for the staff morale as well as maintaining a good, quality workforce.  You can help by signing the COLA petition and supporting your co-workers by showing up at the next School Board Meeting.