The Manatee County School Boad decided in a closed-door meeting Monday night to ease a sweeping teacher pay cut that was scheduled to be retroactive to July 1, 2011.
Instead the paycut – first approved earlier this month – became effective Feb. 16, the day after the school board vote.
Because the pay cuts are no longer retroactive to July 1, the average teacher will save about $425 that would have been cut this school year.
The school board made the decision in executive session Monday night, citing pay negotiations for the coming fiscal year as the reason for the meeting outside of the sunshine.
Today, the school district announced the board's decision to change the date on the retroactive pay cut.
For some observers, this is another sign that the school board has a serious communication breakdown.
The salary cuts for teachers were approved at the Impasse Hearing with the Manatee Education Association on Feb. 15 and were to be be retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year, which began July 1, 2011.
In a sign of solidarity, most of the school board members decided to donate part of their pay to the Manatee Education Foundation or to Take Stock in Children. But one school board member, Julie Aranibar, who touts herself as a fiscal watchdog, has been taking home her full pay.
Although the school district argues that it is on solid legal ground regarding a retroactive pay reduction for teachers, the Manatee Education Association didn't agree.
According to a press release from the school district, the School Board decided during the executive session that it was not in the best interest of the School District or its employees to get tangled up in a long and complicated lawsuit to resolve the issue.
The School Board directed Tim McGonegal, superintendent of schools, to make the salary decrease effective Feb. 16.
Also during Monday's executive session, the board directed McGonegal to bring a recommendation at a special School Board meeting to ensure all district employees are treated fairly.
The original budget plan – including salary reductions approved by the Board at a special meeting on July 11, 2011 – provided additional funding to place the School Board’s health insurance fund in the black as of June 30.
Monday’s change in the effective date of the salary reduction for teachers means the health insurance fund will have an estimated $1.5 million deficit as of June 30.
The school board will have to address the deficit in the health insuacne fund in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
“The decision by the School Board eliminates uncertainty for our employees and brings this issue to closure,” McGonegal said in the press release.