UTD gets new deal worth $70 million

Once ratified, will be largest increase in years

D. Kevin McNeir | 10/17/2013, 9 a.m.
Last Monday, Miami-Dade County Public Schools [M-DCPS] and the United Teachers of Dade [UTD] reached a tentative agreement on contract ...
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho in the obligatory handshake with UTD President Federick Ingram as the two seal the deal on a new teachers contract. Photo courtesy UTD.

Last Monday, Miami-Dade County Public Schools [M-DCPS] and the United Teachers of Dade [UTD] reached a tentative agreement on contract negotiations for over 21,000 teachers and 4,600 support and clerical personnel. According to school officials, the tentative salary model will facilitate a seamless transition from the existing salary schedule to grandfathered and performance-based schedules for the 2014-2015 school year. Both sides say the negotiations have been extensive but that they’re pleased with the results.

Highlights include: an average base salary increase for teachers at 4.26 percent; existing teachers will receive compensation increases of close to $2,500 through a variety of means; and instructional support personnel (paraprofessionals, security monitors and UTD office personnel) will receive a 2.3 percent salary increase plus a one-time supplement of $331. The total cost of the salary proposal for both teachers and educational support personnel is $70M (including Race to the Top performance pay).

And despite projected healthcare increases of $60M, the tentative agreement results in the maintenance of a no-cost healthcare option for employees and continued support of dependent coverage. Now the tentative agreement must be ratified by the UTD membership later this month and then approved by the School Board of Miami-Dade County.

“This is a momentous day for teachers in Miami-Dade,” said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “The combination of compensation increases and a superior benefits package will reward those who have the greatest impact on the future of our students as teachers and support personnel.”

UTD President Federick Ingram, says it’s the first time that a contract has been finished before the closing of the calendar year and that “this has been a long time coming.”

“We wanted this money to be out as quickly as possible and as much as we could get to our people,” he said. “We’ve gone through many years of slowed or no negotiations. Now as the economy turns around and we move out of the recession, we wanted to send a message to our people that this district and our union are behind the work that they do. This isn’t perfect but it’s a great step forward for our teachers and our non-instructional employees that are all part of the UTD bargaining unit. We look forward to our members ratifying this contract and the school board approving it in the coming weeks.”

A union ratification vote is scheduled for Oct. 30th.

Ingram says next issue is an update on school bond

Readers may remember the $1.2B bond that was approved by voters last fall, after Carvalho made a furious pitch to community leaders, including Black clergy, in order to garner their support for the referendum. With Blacks voting overwhelming in its favor, M-DCPS was given access to needed funds for the upgrading or rebuilding of schools throughout the District, some of which were built some 40 years ago or more. The bond was also intended to bring the County’s schools up-to-date with the latest technology.

But so far, we haven’t seen much construction going on. Nor have there been highly-publicized reports telling the public how their tax dollars are being spent. Superintendent Carvalho has agreed to sit down with The Miami Times later this week for a much-needed update. And we look forward to his conversation.

Meanwhile, Ingram says that because things are happening so slowly, he believing it’s causing real “angst within the community.”

“People want to see buildings go up and infrastructure being done,” he said. “They haven’t and it’s been one year since the bond was approved by the voters. We know there have been a series of meetings and that there is a bond committee but that’s not what will get the attention of the people. We’re talking about a lot of money here and when you’re talking about our children’s welfare, we have a right to be anxious. Many of our schools need to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. Others may only need to be refurbished. But I think it’s good that the Black community stay on alert and remain vigilant in terms of being told how things are going.”