On November 9th the Osceola County Education Association and The School District of Osceola County conducted another bargaining meeting in the hope of coming to new agreements to help the instructional staff of Osceola County. At a previous meeting, OCEA had proposed adjustments to the supplement schedule which included an increase in the current supplements that are offered and additional supplements to be added to ensure that our employees who take on extra responsibilities are compensated more appropriately for their time and work.
However, it was revealed at this meeting that Management is not interested in addressing the supplement schedule at this time. This revelation was unwelcome news to the OCEA bargaining team because negotiations on this effort go back years and DOC leadership has repeatedly tabled this discussion. In summary:
- SDOC is now delaying the effort to bargain the supplements package for all instructional employees until the end of the 2024 legislative session.
- SDOC is also choosing to continue withholding at least one year’s worth of payment of Title I supplements to teachers working in critical needs situations, which OCEA believes is a violation of state law (FL Statute 1012.22-5C)
This turn of events is especially disheartening after the summer’s historic salary negotiations and DOC’s promise to negotiate supplements this year. Members will recall that the OCEA team has worked for two years to bring supplements to teachers of the gifted, teachers of the virtual school, Professional Learning Community leads, and to increase other existing supplements.
Mr. Boyd, the Chief Negotiator for SDOC said “It’s not a ‘no’..it’s ‘not at this time.’ Mr. Boyd stated that increasing arts, academics, and athletic supplements must wait until the 2024-2025 state budget has been established.
This viewpoint ignores the existence of funds in other parts of the district budget and reflects the budgetary priorities of district leadership currently. “The 2023-2024 budget is set at this time” was uttered several times by the SDOC bargaining team implying budget amendments cannot be made. OCEA President and Chief Negotiator Janet Moody asked if the district makes budget amendments for items they believe are important.
District leadership replied with a simple “yes.”
OCEA has a desire to participate in a process that is built upon trust and mutual problem solving. Unfortunately, the actions, or inaction, being taken by the SDOC bargaining team exemplifies a continued effort to delay, and at times subvert the bargaining process. It is clear that district leadership has no desire to talk about the budget when they have failed to provide representatives at the table with budgetary knowledge for the past two meetings.
In the name of transparency and truth, OCEA would like to inform its members and other stakeholders in the community that because of specific actions taken by the School District of Osceola County, OCEA has served two Cease-and-Desist letters to DOC for modifying compensation packages outside of the bargaining process.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, OCEA is hopeful that DOC will show respect and gratitude for its hard-working employees by returning to authentic practices of collaborative bargaining.