During a special meeting Tuesday morning, the Citrus County School Board unanimously approved five items affecting employee salaries after lengthy negotiations with the bargaining unit. That unit is comprised of representatives from the Citrus County Education Association, which represents teachers and support staff, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents transportation and maintenance employees, among others. Board member Linda Powers was absent.
Item one will provide three years’ worth of increases in the base teacher salary. The current starting salary in Citrus is about $35,000. This will increase by $1,000 during the current school year, and by $1,200 per year for each of the next two years.
“Our starting salary has been historically lower than our surrounding counties,” said Assistant Superintendent Jonny Bishop. “In an effort to become more competitive, the recruitment and retainment of teachers, we felt strongly that we had to increase the salary scale. Our neighbors were outpacing us.”
The second and third items will provide salary increases to other types of employees, who will receive a 1.25 percent increase in addition to the automatic increase received as a result of the step system. Employees on the step system and receiving that increase include support staff — such as teacher aides — bus drivers, and custodians.
The step system no longer applies to teachers, for whom pay increases depend on evaluations. In Citrus, 67 percent of a teacher’s overall score is based on instructional practice as evaluated by supervisors, and 33 percent is based on student performance data.
The fourth and fifth items will provide an increase of $32 per month in the amount of match provided to offset the cost of health insurance. That increase will apply to employees of all types who purchase insurance through the district, which is self-insured.