MANATEE COUNTY, Florida — The Manatee Education Association (MEA) and the school district reached a new contract on Tuesday, which was overwhelmingly adopted by the Manatee County School Board. One of the new features is an increase in the starting wage for teachers, which was one of the new highlights of the new deal.
The beginning wage for teachers in Manatee County is now consistently ranked among the highest in the state. The new beginning wage for teachers is $55,177, up from the previous level of $52,910, thanks to the new contract.
Cynthia Saunders, the superintendent, expressed gratitude to both the school board and the MEA for their support of the new contract.
According to Saunders, “this is a huge step forward for our school system during a time when other school districts are trying to recruit and retain the highly qualified teachers and paraprofessionals our students need and deserve.”
As part of the new agreement, the hourly minimum wage for teaching assistants and other paraprofessionals would raise to $15 from the previous rate of $13.34 per hour.
The new contract stipulates that teachers would receive a base compensation of $48,586, which includes a supplemental payment of $6,591 that was sanctioned by a 1-mill referendum that was passed by voters in 2018 and 2021.
Historically, the starting salary for teachers was $47,500, and they received an additional $5,410 per year.
It is more difficult to reach an agreement because of changes in the FL Statute and the manner that funding for teachers’ wages is handled, but both sides worked hard to establish the best feasible agreement that could be reached under those conditions. This is the earliest deal that Manatee has struck in a number of years, and it is an agreement that will help both our employees and our community. MEA President Pat Barber said
All of the terms of the existing contract, including the premiums for health insurance, will remain in effect until discussions take place in 2023-2024, and pay increases will be backdated to July 1, 2022.
Additional Highlights of the New Teacher Contract and the New Paraprofessional Contract were noted by the School District of Manatee County.