ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — After a stalemate between the Orange County teacher’s union and Orange County Public Schools over plans for teacher pay, on Wednesday a budget impasse hearing will be held to determine what, if any, raises teachers will get moving forward. 

What You Need To Know

​And while initially, a large crowd of supporters had been hoped for, now Orange County Classroom Teachers Association President Wendy Doromal said they are asking parents, teachers and community members not to come to the budget impasse hearing because of rising COVID-19 case numbers. 

On Tuesday, the first day of instruction in the new year for OCPS students, the district said 5% of its instructional staff, an estimated 700 teachers, called out sick

And 92 of the nearly 650 bus drivers were out sick Tuesday, causing delays in transportation, according to Superintendent Barbara Jenkins. 

Doromal said these absences from COVID-19 are just one of many problems teachers are dealing with daily during the pandemic. They deserve to be paid more for all the extra work they’ve been forced to take on, she said.  

So far, about 800 teachers have resigned this year, according to Doromal, and there have been about 15,000 substitute vacancies from August through November. Unless the district takes action, Doromal said it’s likely more teachers may leave the profession altogether. 

“$25 a year, after a year-and-a-half of going above and beyond and making the impossible possible for every student. The disrespect, the noncollaboration, the failure to work with stakeholders is causing teachers to leave,” Doromal said. “I don’t think our district leadership cares if they’re bleeding teachers because they view teachers as disposable, replaceable labor units — not as human beings, not as valued employees. So I really don’t think they care because they sure aren’t taking any action that would reverse the hemorrhaging of teachers."

OCPS is proposing giving all teachers an extra $25 a year in cost-of-living salary increases. For teachers considered in their evaluations as effective, they would also see an extra $100 in salary annually, while teachers rated highly effective would see an additional $150 annually.

The district is also calling for teachers to pay more for health-care costs, but it will offer a one-time $2,500 bonus for educators, paid for mostly from federal CARES Act funding. Included in the district's proposal is a $1,000 one-time bonus that was offered by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2020 for teachers that the district matched for other school staff members, like bus drivers and media center workers. OCPS is also offering for teachers who have been with the district for five or more years a three-year retention bonus from $500 to $3,000, depending on their level of teaching experience with the district, paid over three years. According to OCPS, "The Three-Year Retention Supplement will be funded from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (“ESSER”) funds appropriated in the American Rescue Plan."

Teachers in OCPS who are new to the district and will not get the "performance pay" from the district would see under the district's proposal a $25-cost-of-living increase, the $2,500 one-time bonus and the $1,000 one-time bonus from the governor. 

Comparatively, for teachers in OCPS who have been with the district for 30 or more years and is rated highly effective, they would see under the district's proposal a $25-cost-of-living increase to their annual salary as well as an additional $150 annually for their performance rating. They would also receive the $2,500 one-time bonus, the $1,000 bonus from the governor and $3,000 from the three-year retention supplement from American Rescue Plan funding. 

Teachers, on the other hand, say it’s frustrating to see the district relying on federal and state funding for one-time bonuses instead of budgeting directly for steady pay raises. They are calling for salary increases, health-care costs to remain steady and longevity pay for teachers who have been in the profession for years but are currently paid just a few hundred dollars more than new-hires. 

After the union and the district hit a wall on negotiations last year​, this budget impasse hearing is the next step in determining what, if any, pay raises teachers will get.

The budget impasse hearing is expected to begin at 4 p.m.