WCSB Approves ESE Contract, Talks Teachers
The ESP’s Contract has been approved and the Charter Schools are getting funds, but the teachers choose to return to the negotiation table. At last night’s Walton School Board meeting, Superintendent Carlene Anderson recommended approval of the Educational Support Personnel contract. The union members ratified their agreement with the district. The teachers did not.
The ESP’s overwhelmingly approved the contract agreed upon at the recent meeting between the unions and district negotiation team. The cost is $309,000. Board member Mark Davis asked if they can pay out of any type of available funds. Superintendent Anderson said it comes from the general fund. Roberts also said they have not received any funds from the governor's initiative. She said these will not come until they approve the teacher’s pay and the state approves the agreement. The money for the ESP contract will not drop the fund balance below the required $3 million, but will bring it close.
Board member Sharon Roberts gave a copy of a letter showing they have the money. Anderson said this was a misunderstanding and they do not have the dollars. She said there is a statement that shows the amount received from the Department of Education is $1.3 million. Anderson said the wording means that is the amount of the allocation. She told Roberts they budget for what is being allocated, but the money is not sitting in the bank account. Roberts said the statement says, “Amount Received, not Amount Allocated” and it is in writing. Anderson again explained this is the amount allocated.
After a comment by the audience, Anderson said the money from the Governor's initiative will stay with the state if they do not reach an agreement. The governor’s money for teachers includes the charter schools and they turn in plans to the state. Anderson and Finance Director Hobbs said the district has begun giving the charter schools their money from the general fund and the general fund will be reimbursed by the state. The district is holding the charter school’s plans per a state request.
The Charter Schools and the ESP’s will get the state’s money. Board member Mark Davis explained that if they do not settle with the teachers, they will go to impasse. He also said the delay in not going to the negotiation table earlier is his fault after he suggested they wait until the third calculation of FTE’s. Additionally a meeting was delayed for the Winter Storm Leon. He acknowledged the other districts have settled. Davis said the teachers will got something. He said he does not know what the terms will be, but they will have something by June.
Walton County School Board Meeting
Several teachers received checks for Industry Certification Supplements. Walton Career Development Center Principal Mike Davis presented the checks and talked about growth in the program next year. He said there is a lot coming from Career Tech. The local Kiwanis Clubs presented money so students can go to the Mattie Kelley Arts. The money provides transportation. Superintendent Anderson said the students would have a hard time going if not for the Kiwanis Clubs. The fifth graders attend a symphony performance. Anderson said many of the students would not be able to experience the musical production if not for the local help. The giving did not stop as the St. Joe Community Foundation gave a $28,800 check for the Take Stock In Children program. One scholarship recipient, Brianna, is being mentored by Robin Wilson, WC Commissioner Sara Comander’s daughter. She will go directly to FSU.
As the personnel recommendations were being presented, Board member Mark Davis asked to take time and remember Randy Infinger. He said we need to remember how precious life is and pointed out the Paxton coach passing at a young age. During comments time, Member Faye Leddon remembered long time educator, Janet Campbell.
Superintendent Carlene Anderson asked for approval to relocate the Walton Middle School to the WISE Center for the planned rebuild of Walton Middle School. She noted the time frame of the Guaranteed Maximum Price from the contractor will likely not come in time. The Board rejected the request due to the time frame. Anderson agreed to bring it back if it comes in time.
Superintendent Carlene Anderson also announced she will not be seeking re-election after her current term runs out.
WCSB Hears From Walton County Taxpayer Association
The Walton County Taxpayers Association asked the Walton County School Board to have the commissioners place the vote for the half mill on the ballot in August. This is the half mill tax swap that takes money from the capital budget and moves it to the general budget. The Board has promised and has always reduced the capital side by the same amount, making this a tax swap, not an increase. Superintendent Anderson made a recommendation to write a resolution. The little over $5 million from the tax swap is used for teacher pay. The current voter approved tax swap does not retire until the 2014-2015 budget.
Bob Hudson, with the WCTA, said they have been working with a group of parents. Hudson said the cost of the special referendum where it is the only item is near $40,000 and bringing it to the ballot early will give more time. The Board agreed to have a resolution to ask the commissioners prepared and brought back.
The WCTA also asked the Board to ask the commissioners to place on the ballot a question to make the superintendent an appointed office, not an elected one. Superintendent Anderson said the request could be a good one, but she would recommend requiring an appointed person to have at least the same educational requirements as the people being supervised. She said she does not believe the residents are ready to give up the right to vote. Don Riley, president of the WCTA, said they made the request simply to discuss public policy, not to attack anyone. He said an appointed post would provide more qualified candidates than what is available in the rural county. He said the highest qualification should not be to win an election. He said there should not be any restriction requiring the person to be from the county. Vice-Chair Gail Smith talked about the higher costs to find and hire an appointed superintendent. Smith also noted the Florida districts with appointed superintendents are in the south part of the state. She asked for time to make an educated decision. The Board approved drafting a resolution.
The WCTA then asked the board to alter meeting locations between the north and south and start at a later time. Superintendent Anderson noted the meeting times and locations are set by the Board in their November reorganization meeting. Board member Mark Davis made a motion to alternate the meetings but still start them at 5:00pm. The Board approved the motion. Smith asked about the agenda items and keeping them for the area. She said, if there is an item pertaining to the south when the meeting is on the north end, would that be a problem. The motion passed. Alternating meetings per resident’s requests have been done twice before, plus special meetings have been held in alternate locations. Each time the attendance did not improve and actually was less after the first meeting. The Board was told parents are more involved now.
WZEP AM 1460 First News has just received word that the Walton Teachers voting on the union negotiations with the District have turned down the offer. The vote was 194 in favor of ratification and 331 against.
The Educational Support Personnel (ESP) union overwhelmingly ratified their offer with the District. The vote for the ESP's was 348 in favor to 40 against.
This means the ESP contract will go to the Walton School Board and the Teacher's contract will not. The Teachers and the Negotiation Team will go back to the table to try and work out any differences. This also means the money Governor Rick Scott wants given to education has not been finalized for Walton, one of the few remaining districts without a contract.
When the ESP's ratified contract goes for Board approval, the Board may approve it and send it to the state for it's blessing, or may choose to delay approval while the Teacher's agreement is worked on.
Though the District gave three different types of money, there was confusion on the amount of raises. The Superintendent and representatives for both unions held a news conference to explain the contract and raises. Some felt the money from the state should only go to the teachers.
Winter returned Wednesday afternoon and the cold stopped a carjacking suspect’s escape from law enforcement.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office says an incident began with an armed carjacking in Baker and ended with the suspect crashing the stolen car near Fort Walton Beach and fleeing on foot. The initial report indicated a man took a cream-colored Kia Soul at gunpoint around 6:30 Wednesday evening from a church parking lot on State Road 189 near Barnhill Road. He then headed south down 189. The victim is listed as Bobby Jean Butterworth.
Butterworth says she parked her car at the Dollar General and when she exited the store she met Waylon Dwight Ganey, a white male in his early 20’s with a black backpack and visible tattoos, who asked for a ride to Mickey’s Grocery Store. While they were travelling he asked to be dropped off at the Golan Assembly of God Church, a little further down the road. While travelling they engaged in conversation and talked about people they both knew. When they arrived at the church, the arrest report says Gainey told her, “I’m sorry, but I’m gonna have to ask you to get out of the car.” Fearing for her safety, she complied.
While responding, deputy Irwin saw the vehicle and relayed the information after being unable to safely turn around. A Crestview Police Officer spotted the car a short time later and stopped it, but th
e driver fled on State Road 85. A pursuit got underway, but the suspect eventually crashed the car at the Fantasy Lounge on Lewis Turner Boulevard and Hospital Drive near Fort Walton Beach. He took off and deputies quickly established a perimeter. They conducted an intense search in the area that included at least one K9 unit.
Deputy Patterson and K-9 Dax began the track and discovered several items of men’s clothing. The report says the clothing appeared as if it was removed while someone was running. Behind the storage yard of an auto shop, they found additional clothing at a fence as well as shoes. Near the White Wilson Dermatology building, they found socks and eventually the track was terminated.
Later in the day the deputies made contact with Ganey’s sister in Crestview. The deputy was familiar with both Ganey and his sister. The deputy says Ganey’s sister has always been cooperative with law enforcement in the past and identified her brother on a video surveillance tape. The sister’s boyfriend also said his identification card had been stolen. A card was found in the clothing while K-9 Dax was tracking.
Later in the day the suspect entered White Wilson Medical Center wearing nothing but shorts and freezing from exposure. Units were still in the area and Ganey was detained. While detained, Ganey made statements about the chase and how he nearly froze from hiding on top of a building.
Waylon Dwight Ganey, of Baker, was arrested for Grand Theft of a Motor Vehicle and Robbery Carjacking With Firearm or Weapon. A realistic looking bb-gun and black backpack were found in the vehicle.
More jobs, more businesses and companies now eager to get land. Two truck companies are asking for land and the travel center will add a hotel and restaurant for the Mossy Head exit. As the Walton Commissioner meeting began, resident Mary Nelson questioned the price of the Brigman truck company contract for land at the park and real estate commissions. She said, when the property is valuable, they should not come down in price, rather look at fair market value.
County Administrator Larry Jones said Brigman came back with an offer of 18,800 an acre. He said they have also agreed to the agent’s commission. He explained the offer actually is lower because it covers the commission. Jones said he went out of county to look at another facility by the company and what it might look like.
Commissioner Sara Comander said she agrees with $20,000 an acre. She said Loves paid a premium, but called it a plus for another business to be located near Love’s. She said they also want anything coming to look great.
Commissioner Kenneth Pridgen asked about the other business, Empire Trucks. Walton is still in talks with the company about additional land. Walton will also have to clear the land. While they can do the work, it means taking crews from other jobs.
Brigman, who wants land on the west side, said he does not mind shifting the properties, he simply wants to be near Empire Trucks. Pridgen said since Empire was first, they need to make sure their needs are met. Commissioner Chapman suggested giving Empire a timeline to submit their needs by the next board meeting.
Chapman said he does not agree with paying a commission for an agent that represents the buyer. The other commissioners agreed. Commissioner Meadows asked about a commission if a good client was looking at property, if the county would look at part of the sales commission. Jones recommended not setting a precedent, though they know it is always a possibility.
Love’s Travel Center has begun construction. The company asked to purchase an additional seven acres. The land is north of the service road and would be used to locate a “Sleep-Inn” hotel and a sit down restaurant like an IHOP. The offer was $20,000 an acre. The motion carried.
Jones said another group has sent a proposal for a 60 acre tract. Meadows asked if they allow an RV Park, Jones said yes.
The Walton County Commissioners began their meeting recognising a 25 year employee, Stan Sunday. Chairman Bill Chapman said Sunday began his work under Sheriff Quinn McMillian, then Sheriff Ralph Johnson. Sunday then went to corrections, becoming director. He has now been moved to Assistant County Administrator. Chapman said he gave Sunday a nickname when he first came to the SO, Rooster, because he is like a banty rooster.
The Walton Economic Development Alliance submitted the quarterly report. They will soon have a new website, but there has been a delay. Steve Jaeger, director of the EDA, took the responsibility for the delays, but confirmed the issues are being worked out. Credit for help was given to Rick Wilson.
The Howard Group asked for county help in applying for a grant for beautification. County Administrator Larry Jones said he explained they not only have to have funding for the grant, but for the maintenance. Jones said the county will not be the applicant, only providing assistance. Commissioner Sara Comander said the county has to get out of median maintenance. She said they are beautiful and are needed, but the county can’t afford to keep them up. Jones agreed, saying this was explained to the applicant.
The Planning Department asked about amending the civil fine code. Chapman agreed, but said they need to also come back with enforcement. Commissioners adopted the fees, but with a caveat of a fee schedule based on neighboring counties and enforcement.
TDC Director Jim Bagby asked the commissioners to approve bids for Research Services and for exterior restroom painting for the regional beach accesses. Both carried. The TDC has a new administrator and the expectation is she will help with finances.
County attorney Mark Davis is now a county employee, not just a contracted attorney. Davis’ contract was approved. He brings a staff and will be shutting down his private practice. Davis said he estimates the change will be a cost savings to the county.
Sheriff Mike Adkinson presented costs for hiring off-duty deputies during spring break. Adkinson also suggested using the Sheriff’s Posse to assist. Commissioners approved $2400 for the Spring Break coverage. Commissioner Bill Imfeld asked if this could be tied to the TDC since it is for the tourists. The attorney said no, it would have to be tied to a specific advertising and with spring break starting next week, they do not have the time. Adkinson also talked about a plan to cover the spring break, including problem intersections.
Commissioner Meadows and several residents came with concerns of the development Osprey Point. While some orders have been issued, there are questions if all the requirements have been met. Allan Osborne (sp) gave a review of his concerns. Attorney Davis agreed with the need for more time and recommended an extended meeting.
Herbert J. Carter, from Tallahassee, came to introduce Dixie Phonic music. He equated this to Cajun from Louisiana, Folk from the Applications and Bluegrass from Kentucky. His plan is to connect along U.S. 90 to provide a music platform for aspiring musicians.
At the time of his death, he was carrying his state championship medallion in his pocket to give to his precious daughter, Gillian. Just days after they were on the mountaintop, the Paxton Girl’s basketball team now faces the loss of Assistant Coach Randy Infinger. The early information is Coach infinger passed from a medical episode while driving.
A close family member says on her social media page that Infinger was driving with his wife and daughter when he suffered a massive heart attack. He was able to pull the vehicle off the road and prevent further injuries.
Mike Gurspan, with WTVY, says Geneva county chief deputy Tony Helms confirmed Infinger ran off Highway 153 through a field before stopping. An investigation is being conducted by the Alabama Department of Public Safety.
Randy Infinger is the son of former Walton County Commissioner and Walton Fair Manager Randall Infinger and his wife Annette. He had a wife, Sarah Infinger, and two daughters, Alexandra Laird and Gillian Infinger. He was the assistant coach for the Girl’s basketball and softball and a PE teacher at Paxton School.
He graduated from Walton Senior High School in 1982, Okaloosa Walton Junior College in 1987, and the University of West Florida in 1989. He was a teacher and coach at Paxton High School for 25 years making a difference in the lives of many. Over the years he served as the head middle school boys baseball and basketball coach. He was also an assistant coach for the high school boys’ basketball and baseball teams, winning numerous titles, including four district basketball championships. Two years ago, Randy added the title of assistant high school girls’ basketball coach to his resume. He was proud to be a part of their recent state championship.Clary-Glenn Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.
Donations are being accepted at the Walton County Teacher’s Credit Union for the Randy Infinger Scholarship Fund and/or donations can be made to the Paxton Booster Club at Paxton High School in Randy’s name.
The Walton County School District Calendar Committee and Superintendent Anderson made their recommendation to the Board, but the Board was not onboard with so many days off.
Board member Mark Davis talked about the 36 hours of professional development. He said most months have two weeks that are shortened than normal. Davis said this causes problems for parents. He said they start school and it is only a short time before parents have to deal with two four day weeks. He said the usual holidays and the professional development days mean every month there are days off. Davis called it an impossible schedule for parents. He recommended rejecting the calendar and putting in only 20 hours of professional development, the minimal, instead of getting to the maximum of 40 hours. Davis said he can not support this many days.
Member Sharon Roberts agreed and said they are killing the working parents. She said the biggest complaint is getting out for Christmas on the 22nd, close to the holiday when people are travelling. She said they need to be out a week before and after Christmas.
Member Gail Smith said they are required to have professional development. She said the idea of having professional growth for professional people is a must. Davis said he agrees they need professional development, but said it is actually not required. Member Faye Leddon said she has also heard from parents and teachers. She said they have to listen to them.
Superintendent Carlene Anderson said she can not afford to pay teachers with a longer year of work. She said they do not get progress monitoring in the summer. Davis said some teachers do not get anything out of most professional development. Anderson said they need to call her. Davis said they will not do that.
Member Dennis Wallace asked if there is another plan, another way to do this. He said they might need to table the issue. Davis suggested a week in the fall and in the spring to get professional development done. Anderson said she is not in favor of cutting professional development, but is in favor of the least intrusion to the parents.
The Board voted 2-3 to reject the recommendation. Anderson said she will go back to the calendar committee.
Tentative WC Negotiation Explained
The tentative bargaining agreement between the Walton County School Board and the instructional personnel union includes a increase in a leveling schedule, money to level the salary schedule and a .49 an hour raise. The educational support personnel will get a .41 an hour raise. For most teachers, this will mean around a thousand and up to $2,900 more a year.
A teacher at step level 12 making $41,130 will move to level 13 and make $42,200. The step includes $400,000 in leveling to remove incentive bumps. Add the .49 and the pay goes to $42,920 or a $1,790 increase. The tentative negotiation, which still has to be approved by the union members and the School Board, has three parts giving increases for the teachers.
At a press conference Thursday morning Walton Superintendent Carlene Anderson explained a leveling of the 2012-13 schedule has taken place. She said the leveling was needed to remove incentives or “bumps” which had been placed throughout the schedule for recruitment and retention. She says removing these bumps was necessary to work towards a more incremental progression on the current salary schedule as they prepare to move to the mandated performance pay. In the leveling process, $400,000 was scattered across the schedule. This created increases from $600 beginning the fourth year of experience and expanding throughout the schedule to as much as $1,500 per level. Anderson said the intent is to reward the teachers with larger increases commensurate with experience.
There are teacher allocation dollars. Anderson explained that 76% of the teacher allocation dollars received were used to create the teacher’s salary proposal. The Educational Support Personnel received 24%. School and district administrators were not included in these allocated dollars. Any increase for the administrators would have to come from the general operating budget.
Dixie Berge with the Educational Support Personnel and Patsy Stephens with the teachers, both part of the Walton County Education Association, noted the negotiation teams have never laid a proposal on the table to reduce salaries. They said the Union and the Board have stood together in good times and bad to help the workforce stay in tact. They said they believe this is the reason they have good schools, educated children and have been designated as a high performing school district for seven consecutive years. The Union and the school board said they have worked together to save jobs. They also noted the use of the fund balance that has helped through tough economic years, but the time has come where they can no longer rely on that.
Anderson also noted that during the past nine years they have provided raises to the employees from 2% to 11.3% annually. This equates to an additional $15 million needed in the budget each year. The voter approved half mill tax swap only generate $5 million, leaving $10 million to find in the general operating budget. Anderson said their budget is like a home budget, she feels the employees deserve more, but when you do not have the money, you can’t spend it.
Stephens and Berge will hold meetings to bring the facts from the negotiations to their membership and answer any questions. They will use lunchrooms and the DeFuniak bus training room: SWHS: Feb. 21st / 3:45 – 5:00, FES: Feb 22nd / 10:00 -11:00, Bus Training room: Feb. 25th / 5:00- 6:00. They should get the information and ballots to all school sites by Thursday. They are planning on voting Feb. 27th and going to the board on March 4th ( if it is ratified). All ballots will be picked up on Friday, Feb. 28th.
For an example and a list of the increases and salary schedules: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByS7t-sx60TLQkJKamJMT3MwU2VnU2lCbkJLemdueEhya01n/edit?usp=sharing.
Walton Middle School
Demolition, technology, utility relocation, renovation of buildings 500 & 900, a larger school, these are some of the features that are part of the cost considerations of the proposed updated Walton Middle School. With changes, the cost is around $27 million or as high as $34 million.
There are more enclosed quarters to make the campus secure. The demolition costs are almost around half a million. One of the two cost differences is due to 800 student stations to 1151 student stations. The Board looked at comparing Emerald Coast Middle School costs to the Walton Middle School cost estimates. Member Dennis Wallace said he understands inflation and can see a 10% higher cost, but not a 30% higher cost.
One cost reduction is to use mobile carts for computers instead of a lab. They are also looking at eliminating eight classrooms. Other costs are to relocate the students to the old Walton High, the current WISE Center, so work can proceed safer and without having to negotiate around students.
Staff showed where student population has been basically flat. From the 2001-02 school year to present there have been 8 additional students added. Some years the student population has grown by 50 or more, but other years there has been a reduction.
There has been suggestions of changing the Walton Middle School location from its current site to the old Walton High site, swapping with the WISE Center.
No action was taken. The meeting was a workshop to give input from the architect and contractor.
In the regular meeting, Superintendent Anderson asked for a timeline with the Walton Middle School project. She said they have to start preparing the old Walton High, the WISE Center, to physically get the work done so students can be relocated for the Middle School rebuild. She told the Board she will ask for the timeline in March. Anderson said, once they give the go, they will start investing money in the building. She said she does not want to invest money in the building and portables if they will not use them. Board member Mark Davis said he does not think the Board can make a decision until they get hard numbers. Anderson said she needs the answer by April to have enough time to get the move ready.
Anderson said she empathises with the Board and the decision they have to make. She said, if the hard bids do not come until May, she can not get it ready in time to move the children. Anderson said, if they do not have directions by April, they will have to delay the project. Davis said they should wait for the hard bids and take the year to get ready. Both Board members Wallace and Roberts agreed with a delay.
The decision to start remodeling and make a move or delay for a year will be on an upcoming agenda.
Superintendent Carlene Anderson and the Union for the teachers and ESP’s will hold a press conference to discuss the current negotiations process. This will likely happen later in the week.
Teacher, photographer and videographer Kathy Mosely and pilot Terry Dawkins worked on a project to preserve buildings and landmarks in the area. Dawkins helped Mosely get a bird’s eye view of Walton Middle School. She said the campus will soon change and she wanted to preserve it. She noted the significant role the campus has played for generations. She presented the Board with a aerial picture of the campus.
Michelle Doggett, with the Walton Education Foundation, applied for a grant from AT&T. Career Development Center teacher Tomas Martin applied for the no match grant of $2000.
The School Board approved financial summaries and budget amendments. The Board approved a Seaside Charter School plan to expand grades, approved personnel recommendations and approved the VPK early intervention summer plan.
The Board approved the evaluation committee member list. The district has a teacher and a principal appraisal system that must be approved by the state each year. They are looking at adding a guidance appraisal system. The system is approved by the Board, but is developed with both the district and union. The process started with the old Race To The Top.
The Board approved getting an appraisal for the 60 acres north of the current Emerald Coast Middle School. Sharon Roberts abstained from voting due to her family having property nearby and a request for access.
Dennis Wallace said the shipbuilding in Panama City is in the running for a multi million dollar contract with the Coast Guard. He said the CEO has said, if they do not get it, it will be because of the lack of skilled labor. Wallace said they work on getting kids ready for college, but said college is not the only thing. He noted the work of the Career Development Center. Faye Leddon agreed that every child in Walton will not go to college. She said they are working on a grant for welding for the CDC.
Anderson said parents in Mossy Head have expressed they would like to include 6th grade at Mossy Head School. Expect meetings with the parents.
Around 1:47 am on February 8th, deputies responded to a suspicious person call and made contact with two individuals who stated they were at a party located at 10213 County Highway 3280, Ponce De Leon, with a friend, William Hallman. While at the party they were approached by an unknown individual, brandishing a knife, and were asked to leave. As they were departing, the victim, William Hallman, was punched and his cell phone was taken and thrown in the woods. The two individuals who accompanied Hallman at the party, ran to the nearest home to call 911 because their cell phones had no signal. Both individuals were taken to meet their parents after speaking with deputies about the incident.
Shortly after, Deputy Matthew Aimanovich was traveling west on County Highway 3280, when he saw a young man stumble on the side of the road and collapse. Deputy Aimanovich immediately made contact with the individual identified as 19 year old William Hallman of Freeport. As he approached, Hallman was yelling “Please no more, please no more!” Once Deputy Aimanovich identified himself as a law enforcement officer, Mr. Hallman stated “Get me out of here they have been beating me up and kicking me.” Deputy Aimanovich asked Mr. Hallman “Who has been beating you up?” Hallman replied and identified one of the suspects as “James Sparks.” Hallman was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital due to his injuries.
A photo lineup was presented to Hallman where he identified four individuals who all took part in encouraging each other to strike and kick him and steal his watch. Hallman attempted to flee from the suspects but they caught up with him and continued to batter him. The following individuals have been charged by investigators with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.
During the course of the investigation, the incident began over Jason Sparks finding out that his ex-girlfriend was speaking to Hallman. More arrests are expected.
Jacob Wayne Ward, 20, 108 MCCewen Street, Ponce De Leon, is charged with battery and robbery.
Aaron Michael Taylor, 26, 10213 County Highway 3280, Ponce De Leon, is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill and robbery.
Jason James Sparks, 19, 14556 State Highway 81, Bruce, is charged with battery and robbery.
Shane Keith Sanders, 16, 289 Williams Street, Santa Rosa Beach, is charged with battery, larceny and robbery. Sanders was taken to the Department of Juvenile Justice since he is a minor.
(L to R: Ward, Taylor, Sparks and Sanders)
The Walton School District negotiation team and the union for the teachers and education support personnel have a tentative agreement. The proposal now goes to the members for ratification and the the school board for their approval. This is a third year contract so all parts are open to negotiations. If both parties give approval, then the contract goes to the state for the DOE’s blessings. Walton is one of only a few districts not completing the annual agreement. The agreement includes a step and additional money, .49 for the teachers and .41 for the ESP’s. The Board will also pay school administrators from the general fund.
Unfunded mandates from the state, corrections in what was legislated and how to distribute additional funds from the governor caused many of the delays. Consultant for the Board, Jerry Copeland, called the offer good and said it was late due to a variety of conditions beyond either side’s control.
Copeland began by explaining how the half cent millage swap, the voter approved tax referendum, is used. The voters approved taking half a mill out of the capital side of the budget and using it for the general side, specifically for pay. This generates about $5 million a year. Since 2004, all increases now total almost $10 million more than what the tax swap provides. For the first few years the swap generated an increase. Since 2008-09 there has been a decrease . This year there is a small increase. The fund balance was used to help supplement, but that has been depleted to a minimum amount required. Copeland said the total amount to cover all raises since 2003-04 is $15.7 million with the tax swap only providing $5 million.
Due to the fund balance, Copeland says the Walton School District has had no closings, no combining of schools, no cut in salaries and no layoffs yet the costs stay the same. He told the union team this shows the commitment of the district. He showed how giving a raise in years past is still in effect, yet the tax revenue has dropped. About $400,000 goes into leveling steps. Using all the money from Gov. Scott, the Board will still have to take $6,087 from the general.
Copeland presented a contract proposal that uses the money from the governor and gives a step raise. He said the extra money is in for this year and is promised for next year. This does not mean it will be provided after that. This means the extra .49 or .41 could go away if the state does not continue to provide it.
Copeland told the group they have received something every year, sometimes a step raise, sometimes a bonus, but some type of additional money. He said everyone will not be moved to the steps they are actually at, but will move one step. One employee in the audience spoke out, saying that the step system is not accurate and walked out instead of being removed. The negotiation meeting is open to the public, but does not allow public input. It was later explained several factors can mean some are not at the step level their years of service says they should be. One reason is steps are based on years of experience, not years working. The first year is year zero. After that you can move to step one. Another reason is steps are a negotiated item and sometimes the agreement does not give a step. This would mean an employee could have 10 years of experience, but not be at step 10 due to the years steps were not agreed upon.
The tentative agreement gives all the money from governor Scott to the teachers and ESP. The general fund will take care of the school administrators. They will agree to a continuation of a year for the language. If all sides approve, this will close the contract for the year.