For the first time in St. Johns Education Association history, teachers voted against a proposed raise.
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Just in time for the holidays – teachers in St. Johns County could finally see the pay raise they’ve debated and protested for months.
First, they have to get an offer they can agree to – after 77%, more than three quarters, of all teachers turned down the $1200 raise the district proposed.
It’s the first time in St. Johns Education Association history teachers have turned down a raise, with the majority feeling the offer wasn’t enough.
Now, it’s back to the bargaining table.
It’s been about three weeks since St. Johns County teachers filled downtown with red shirts and protest signs.
They want higher salaries – and school district leaders came to them with an offer almost immediately after.
“The teachers have spoken,” said St. Johns Education Association President Michelle Dillon. “They made their voice heard.”
Dillon says every teacher in the district had a chance to vote on the $1200 raise, not just those in the union, and they overwhelmingly shot it down.
She says one of the concerns is the tiny year over year increase a teacher has to look forward to after joining the district.
“A teacher with years of experience looks at someone, with no disrespect, coming new into the county, but there’s not much of a difference between their salaries,” said Dillon.
The most recent salary schedule available online for St. Johns County is for last school year.
St. Johns instructional salary schedule 2021-22
It shows a teacher who’s been in the district for ten years only makes about $700 more than a brand new teacher, and it takes 17 years to reach the average pay of teachers in Florida, according to the National Education Association.
The union is hoping more teachers will be willing to come to the next bargaining session.
“There’s nothing more powerful than unity and having a show of people saying, ‘We are standing together, supporting each other, and we want a raise that matches the excellent work we do every day in St. Johns County,'” said Dillon.
First Coast News reached out to the school board chairman to hear the district’s take on the issue, but her secretary said she’s at a conference this week.
The union and district leaders just met and set December 8th as the next bargaining session, so that’ll be an opportunity to hear district leader’s take on the issue.