Broward County school employees will soon be getting bigger paychecks, after the school board approved an agreement with workers’ unions on Tuesday.
Under the deal, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, police officers and other school support staff will be paid 5.5% more — at least for the next four years. That’s after the county’s voters passed a tax referendum in 2022 to invest in higher salaries, school safety and mental health resources.
“This helps retain our staff and our employees to make sure that they know we respect them,” Broward Superintendent Peter Licata told reporters after the vote Tuesday. “We need to make sure we’re putting our money where our mouth is. So we’re going to continue doing this because we will be an ‘A’ district.”
The additional money, referred to as "supplementals," should begin showing up in employees’ paychecks next month, according to the district’s Chief People Officer David Azzarito.
“The sooner, obviously, the better,” Board Chair Lori Alhadeff told Azzarito.
With more than 31,000 full− and part−time employees, the Broward school district — the nation’s sixth−largest — is the county’s biggest employer.
The supplemental pay agreements the board approved on Tuesday apply to a slate of non-instructional employees, including clerical workers, maintenance technicians, custodians and security staff. Jim Silvernale of the Federation of Public Employees says those workers are just as deserving of a pay increase as instructional staff.
“If it wasn’t for us, things wouldn’t happen, folks. It wouldn't happen. Your kid wouldn't get to school, things wouldn’t be repaired, bathrooms wouldn’t be taken care of,” Silvernale said. “We don’t always think about those non-instructional people that work every day for the school district. Because they care about kids too. We all do.”
The board signed off on supplemental pay for the district’s 14,000 teachers last month. Under that agreement, teachers will get an additional $500 to $12,000 a year, depending on how long they’ve been in the classroom. The average increase would be $10,600, according to the district.
One board member was vocally opposed to doling out supplemental pay to district staff who are not teachers or security staff, claiming that it’s inconsistent with how the district’s former superintendent pitched the referendum. Board Member Brenda Fam was the only board member who voted against the supplemental pay agreements at Tuesday’s meeting.
“These funds should go to the teachers,” Fam said. “We need to seize on this moment. We need to keep the referendum money for our teachers’ wages.”
District staff made clear at Tuesday’s meeting that the intention was always to increase pay for staff across the district. The ballot language that voters approved reads:
“Shall The School Board of Broward County levy an ad valorem property tax of one mill annually for fiscal years July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2027, to provide funding for (i) school resource officers, safety staff and mental health professionals, (ii) increasing compensation to recruit and retain teachers and staff and (iii) essential instruction related expenditures to preserve important programs, for the benefit of all traditional public and charter schools?”
The tax increase — and the supplemental pay — will sunset in 2027.