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Dear PEA Members,

April 13, 2018

PEA applauds the Superintendent Byrd’s position not to arm existing PCSB staff but, instead, to hire School Safety Specialist staff persons. These employees, who will be fully vetted, tested and trained per the Guardian guidelines, will insure that each campus, not currently covered by an SRO, will have a trained Guardian in the event of an active shooter incident. This compromise, having been worked out with Sheriff Judd, will allow all campuses additional security measures.  


While having an armed, uniformed, trained security staff comes at a financial cost, it is a position that reflects the results of the PEA Guardian Survey. Thank you to the 3,124 of you that responded and shared your thoughts on this emotional topic. The full survey results can be found under WHAT'S NEW above.  


While it is our sincere wish that this measure would not be necessary, we live in troubling times. Many staff, parents and students want to have protection at hand. We hope the school board accepts this program, as it meets the statutory requirements of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. We further believe that this program should have been fully funded by the Florida State Legislature. Instead of coming, yet again, as a grossly underfunded mandate—that is a ballot box issue.


In Solidarity,



Polk Educator Survey Respondents Oppose Arming School Personnel

April 10, 2018


See full questions and results under WHAT'S NEW

Polk Education Association regularly surveys members for their thoughts and opinions on school-related issues. The number of responses vary depending upon the topic. As the proposal to arm educators is very controversial, PEA surveyed members to find out what they thought of education staff carrying weapons in schools.


56% of Polk Education Association members oppose arming school staff 

• 3,124 PEA members responded to the survey.

• 56% of PEA members responding to the survey oppose allowing trained and permitted education staff to carry a loaded weapon on campus during school hours.

• 46% of PEA members support arming school personnel.  


68% of Florida Education Association members oppose arming school staff 

FEA conducted a similar survey of all Florida public school employees including FEA members and non-members. Of PEA members responding to the FEA survey, 51% oppose arming school personnel.

• FEA surveyed 12,829 Florida public school employees. Of those surveyed, 59% responded that they were members of their local union, and 41% indicated they were not union members.

• Of the 12,829 asked, “The legislature is moving a bill that would allow teachers to carry guns in schools. Are you in favor of arming teachers?” 68% responded “no” (8,752) and 32% (4,077) responded “yes.”

• In that same survey, 668 of the respondents were Polk County public education employees. Of the total Polk respondents, 418 identified themselves as members of PEA and 250 identified as non-members.

• 51% of PEA members who responded to the FEA survey oppose arming school personnel, while 49% support arming school personnel.  


82% of National Education Association members oppose carrying guns in school 

NEA commissioned a national polling company to survey member attitudes about school safety.

• An overwhelming majority, 82%, say they would not carry a gun in school, including 63% of NEA members who own a gun.

• 61% of gun owners oppose arming teachers. 64% of those in gun households oppose arming teachers.

• Two thirds, 64%, say they would feel less safe if teachers and other educators were allowed to carry guns.

• Educators do not believe that this proposal would be effective in preventing a school shooting. Seven in 10 (69%) NEA members say arming school personnel would be ineffective at preventing gun violence in schools.


Gallup found 73% of teachers oppose being armed at school  

Gallup conducted polls of randomly sampled teachers and the public to gauge attitudes about school safety and arming teachers in response to the Parkland shootings.

• Gallup surveyed 500 teachers nationwide.

• 20% of teachers thought that arming teachers would make schools safer.

• 58% of teachers thought schools would be less safe.

• In a separate Gallup poll, 56% of the public also oppose the idea of arming teachers.  



Teachers, Secretaries, and Paraeducators, Ratify Contracts

January 16, 2018

The teachers, secretaries, and paraeducators represented by the Polk Education Association have all ratified their contracts by wide margins. The ESP/Secretary Contract was ratified by 99%, with 86% of ESP voting. The Paraeducator Contract was ratified by 99%, with 72% of Paraeducators voting. The Teacher Contract was ratified by 98%, with 56% of the Teachers voting.

The School Board will vote on January 23rd on all three contracts, teacher, para, and ESP, pending the ratification votes taken this evening. Tonight’s affirmative ratification votes, coupled with the Board’s vote to approve this contract, bring this bargain to its conclusion. Employees will receive their Step increases in their February paychecks and it will be retroactive to the start of the school year for 2017-2018 wages and to January 1, 2017 for 2016-2017 wages. 

PEA President Capoziello stated, “PEA is gratified for the support it received as we fought through impasse. It is our hope, that as we begin 2018-2019 bargaining, there is a new spirit of transparency. We also hope that as the District plans its budget for 2018-2019 they take into account wages, hours, and working conditions that are meaningful to our teachers and support staff. Our students deserve a well-qualified staff.” 


Ratification Timeline

January 4, 2018

Tuesday, January 23rd - The School Board will vote on the proposed Tentative Agreements. Ratification is then concluded.


If ratification passes, the school board will process payment in your February 2018 pay check.


All Bargaining Unit Employees Received An Email

December 5, 2017

You have received an email to your school board email account with the all the Tentative Agreements for your employee group.  If you didn't receive an email, please check your Junk Mail or your Spam filter.  You can also download a copy of the Tentative Agreements under WHAT'S NEW.


Your PEA Bargaining Team recommends a yes vote for ratification. While we realize it is a modest salary increase, it does move us forward. Please remember we had to go to Impasse, which is non-binding in the state of Florida, to move these changes. The following items are note-worthy because we began this process with a 0% salary proposal (salary freeze) and a proposed $13 million dollar health insurance cost shift from the district. The district also wanted to remove our Advanced Degree language.


By fighting the impasse here is what we were able to accomplish:

• Advance Degree Language is safe.

• There are modest wage increases for 16-17 (retro to Jan. 2017) and 17-18 (retro to July 2017). Note--Performance Pay/Grandfather pay is consistent with the requirements of Florida Statute

• There were no Health Insurance Increases in 2017 and there will be no increases in 2018.

• There is clear understanding the PEA has not waived any of its future bargaining rights on Health Insurance or on Teacher Evaluation  


You will notice there is a Summary of Changes (in blue) at the beginning of each Article. It is not part of the contract; it is merely a brief explanation of the changes you will find in that Article. The whole Article has been provided so you can read the changes in context. For your convenience, the changes have been highlighted in yellow to make them easier to locate.  The current contract also resides on the PEA website under the Contract link above and is in force until the conclusion of ratification.


We are asking for one last piece of help. Please refrain from calling the Payroll Department and HR to ask questions about this settlement. Your school’s Payroll secretary can answer questions like “what step am I on?” You can also locate pay information in the Staff Portal which will list your current pay scale, pay level, salary, etc. This was a very difficult bargain and your PEA Bargaining Team worked very hard on your behalf. We spent many, many hours trying to get you the best settlement possible. The teachers, paras, and ESP that represent you at the table are terrific and I know you appreciate them as much as I do!  


In Solidarity,



Good News - Salaries Settled Two-Year Agreement

November 14, 2017

Just in time for the holiday, we wanted to bring you some good news! As you are aware at the October 30th Impasse Hearing the School Board sent us back to the bargaining table on wages. The District and PEA bargaining teams met many times between October 30 and last evening. We even continued to meet yesterday while the school board meeting was in progress. At 6 pm last evening the teams reached agreement on salaries for Teachers, Paraeducators, and the ESP (secretary clerical) units. The modest increases are for the 16-17 School Year and the 17-18 School Year. There will be retroactivity to January 1st in the 16-17 school year and to July 1 in the 17-18 School Year.


What follows is a synopsis of the wage settlements for all three groups (including examples):

As a reminder:

• We have worked to move the wages from an initial offer of zero to where we are today

• We preserved the Advance Degree pay language for teachers

• We had no Health Insurance increases in 2017 and will have no increases for 2018

• We will now have two days of Bereavement Leave (this was brought to the table by the district)

• While the School Board did bring their fund balance down and transfer capital money to accomplish these increases, the raises are sustainable

Wages for 16-17 with retro pay to January 1, 2017

• Grandfather teachers, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Teacher Network Managers, will receive an additional $599 added to their base salary

• Annual Contract teacher– Highly Effective will receive an additional $900 added to their base salary, which is 3 levels of movement on the Performance Salary Schedule

• Annual Contract teacher – Effective will receive an additional $600 added to their base salary, which is 2 levels of movement on the Performance Salary Schedule

• ESP/Secretaries and Paraeducators will receive a step on their salary schedule

• ESP/Secretaries and Paraeducators that are at the top step will move to a new top step that reflects a $500 increase

Wages for 17-18 with retro pay to July 1, 2017

• Grandfather teachers, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Teacher Network Managers, will receive an additional $299 added to their base salary

• Annual Contract teacher– Highly Effective will receive an additional $600 added to their base salary, which is 2 levels of movement on the Performance Salary Schedule

• Annual Contract teacher – Effective will receive an additional $300 added to their base salary, which is 1 level of movement on the Performance Salary Schedule

• ESP/Secretaries and Paraeducators will receive a step on their salary schedule  


All numbers are estimates of gross salary only, not a net increase. The date of payout will affect the final monthly and retro check amounts. Any pre-tax deductions such as additional insurance and benefits will also affect your gross salary and the amounts showing on your pay check. You can view your current pay stub in your staff portal. I encourage you to download or take a screen shot of your current pay information from the portal to compare it to the new data that will show up when the pay increases are loaded and ready for payment. The explanations in this email are for base salary only, you must back out any supplements and only look at the base to make this comparison. 


Instructional Examples:

• An Annual Contract teacher on level 005 the Performance Pay Schedule with an Effective Evaluation in 2015-2016 will move to level 007, increase of $600 for 2016-2017. They also have an Effective Evaluation in 2017-2018, will move to level 008, increase of $300. Total base salary increase for the 2 years is $900. This will add $75 to the teacher’s monthly pay once the change is implemented. This teacher will also receive a retro check for the 16-17 wages ($300) to January 1 and the 17-18 wages ($450) to July 1, for a total of $750.

• An Annual Contract teacher on level 009 the Performance Pay Schedule with a Highly Effective Evaluation in 2015-2016 will move to level 012, increase of $900 for 2016-2017. They also have a Highly Effective Evaluation in 2017-2018, will move to level 014, increase of $600. Total base salary increase for the 2 years is $1500. This will add $125 to the teacher’s monthly pay once the change is implemented. This teacher will also receive a retro check for the 16-17 wages to January 1 ($450) and the 17-18 wages to July 1($750), for a total of $1200.

• A Grandfather Teacher, OT/PT and Network manager will receive a pay increase in 2016-2017 of $599 and a pay increase of $299 in 2017-2018 for a total increase of $898. This will increase the salary of the employee by $74.83 per month and they will receive a total retro check of $749, ($249.50 for 16-17 retro to January 1 and $449.00 for 17-18 retro to July 1).

Paraeducator or ESP Example:

• A Paraeducator or ESP/Secretary will move an experience level in 2016-2017 and an experience level in 2017-2018. If the average step cost is approximately $500 that means the total base increases by $1000, or $83.33 per month. The retro pay amount would be approximately $750 ($250 for 16-17 retro to January 1 and $500 for 17-18 retro to July 1). Since the salary schedules in the current contract will not change other than to update the years of experience and add another step you can use the current schedule to see how moving two steps in your pay grade will affect your total salary.


Items still needing to be finalized prior to ratification

Regarding Article 15 in the Teacher CBA (Evaluations) and (Health Insurance) Articles 23 in the Teacher CBA, Article 12 in the ESP CBA and Article 14 in the Paraeducator CBA, the parties will continue to bargain and clarify the language based upon the dialogue at the October 30, 2017 legislative hearing. With the goal of finishing no later than December 5, 2017. If the parties are unable to tentatively agree to the articles stated in this paragraph by the stated goal of December 5, 2017, the parties agree to submit the issues resolved through impasse and tentatively agreed upon articles negotiated during the 2016-17 bargaining cycle for ratification pursuant to law within 30 days. Union officers and bargaining team members are free to voice their views and opinions with respect to any tentatively agreed upon items during the ratification process.  


Ratification Timeline

It is our plan to begin the ratification process in December for both 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. The District assures us that they will make every effort to have the retro pay in the January check. If that timeline proves impossible, the pay will then be on the February 2018 pay check. Please be on the lookout in December for emails that contain the entire packet for ratification and the dates for ratification balloting to begin and end. Thank you for your patience as we work to complete this herculean task.


As questions come in we will try to answer them.

Should we see a lot of the same questions we will not answer individually, but we will do a FAQ email.


PEA is proud of the work done by its bargaining team. We express our thanks to Superintendent Byrd and her staff and the School Board for working with us to find better solutions. As they stated last night at the School Board meeting, it is not enough for all that you do, but it is within the realm of what is realistic within the financial issues caused by legislatively mandated unfunded rules, monies syphoned off for charters and vouchers, and inadequate state funding. These are ballot box issues for the future.


In Solidarity, Marianne  



October 13, 2017

Dear PEA Members,

As I am getting many calls and emails regarding the AFSCME settlement announced by the Superintendent yesterday afternoon I am sending this as a clarification:

The settlement only impacts employees represented by AFSCME. As I understand it the district offered them an additional half percent (from a 1 percent it is now 1.5%) and an attendance bonus for their bus drivers. Their raise will not be retroactive for the 16-17 School Year. I do not know what CBA language was at their bargaining table. It was the AFSCME team’s decision to accept this proposal and I wish them well.

To BE CLEAR---No additional wages have been offered to teachers, paraprofessionals, or secretaries.

The offer for PEA remains as follows: The PEA bargaining team made a proposal to limit the contract changes proposed by the District and use the 2% recommendation of the Special Magistrate to possibly settle both 16-17 and 17-18 with some wage increases in each year. This was discussed, however when the District finally put their counter offer in writing it was to keep the freeze in place for 16-17 to all wages and implement a 1% increase to wages for 17-18 for all support staff, increase all grandfather teacher salaries by $899 and pay Performance increases to annual contract teachers of $1200 for Highly Effective and $900 for Effective.  

It is time to “stand together”. 

In Solidarity,




August 7, 2017

The decision of the Special Magistrate arrived on Monday, August 7, 2017. PEA is pleased to note that the Special Magistrate overwhelmingly decided in favor of the Union’s position. The five issues that were in front of the Special Magistrate were 1) Salaries 2) Advanced Degrees 3) Health Insurance—The Superintendent’s Insurance Committee and the Bargaining Timeline for Health Insurance 4) Teacher Evaluations—Removal of the Appendix M (The Evaluation Manual) 5) Mid-Year Teacher Transfers.



The Union Proposal was for an overall 2.87% increase, including steps and performance pay increases. The factors that the Special Magistrate considered were the Local Operation Area, Comparisons, Interest and Welfare of the Public, Comparison of Employment and Availability of Funds. On the Availability of Funds the Special Magistrate concluded that the District has money for a salary increase for 2016-2017. After reviewing the Local Operating Area comparables provided by the Union, the Special Magistrate determined that an increase of 2% is a comparable to other counties and that is his recommendation.  



The Special Magistrate recommends that the District and PEA retain the current language contained in the collective bargaining agreement. The Special Magistrate relied on the previously won grievance arbitration that was subsequently upheld by the Circuit Court and the District Court of Appeals. This means that all advanced degree supplements should remain as they are in the contract.  



PEA and the district were able to come to tentative agreement on the benefit structure and premiums for the 2016-2017 school year. What remained at odds was the district’s plan to cease operating the Superintendent’s Insurance Committee. A committee that PEA felt was a valuable outlet to review employee health and wellness options, discuss the bid process for insurances, and receive insight from a myriad of employee voices that were represented on the committee. The Magistrate has recommended the committee be retained as this committee does perform vital functions for ensuring a sustainable health care plan. The district and PEA both agreed that health insurance negotiations needed to begin more timely and had discussed the timeline ultimately recommended by the Special Magistrate. In fact PEA has already asked to begin 2017-18 negotiations on this issue.



 The District has proposed removing the entire Evaluation Manual from the Teacher Collective Bargaining Agreement, calling it cumbersome and unwieldy. The Special Magistrate does not recommend the removal of the document, but instead recommends that we adjust the timelines for making changes to the document to meet the Florida Department of Education timelines for reporting as this document does contain items that are subject to bargaining.  



The District language that they took to impasse involves restricting teacher transfers to the summer months only with the only exceptions being for hardship or promotion. This is the language that the Special Magistrate has upheld this recommendation.


The district and PEA bargaining team will now need to meet to review the ruling and determine how to proceed. Marianne Capoziello, PEA President stated “the Association stands ready to work to bring the 2016-17 Impasse to conclusion”. “An independent Magistrate has reviewed all of the information presented by both sides and has issued a fair and unbiased ruling, let us hope that the decision makers see the wisdom in finding settlement and moving on” she concluded.  


August 2, 2017

All the briefs by the attorneys were filed on July 10th (the due date set by the Magistrate). The Magistrate’s ruling can come in at any time now. Once the ruling is in there is a 20 day period for both sides to file “exceptions” to his ruling and to set a “Legislative Hearing” before the School Board. At this hearing the School Board impanels itself as an “independent body” and decides to accept or reject the Magistrate’s settlement. This is Florida Labor Law. It is an absurdity, but this is the process that is given to us.


When we know the Magistrate’s ruling, we will notify you. When we know the date of the hearing, we will notify you. We are asking that as many teachers and support staff attend this hearing as possible. The School Board needs to be looking at a sea of faces as they consider their ruling. We will also let you know when there are additional actions we need you to take. We ask you to stand with your PEA bargaining team; this process is frustrating for all. It is long and it is fraught with wrong thinking—but it is the law we have to work with in this state. These are complex times and the issues are many and PEA is fighting on your behalf on all fronts.


If it were not for this Association these actions of contract stripping, and wages freezes would have been done without any fight at all. You also would have had a 13 million dollar shift in health care costs onto the backs of our employees, which we were able to stop. It is time to stand strong and fight on! If not us who, if not now when? The battles are on several levels and we must engage. PEA will never give up on our members, their families, or our students.


You are all too important to give up on. We will fight for public education and those that work on behalf of our students. We are teachers, instructional staff, paraeducators, and secretary/clerical and we are united and ready to fight on!


In Solidarity,



May 17, 2017

PEA has joined with the Polk School District today to ask Governor Scott to veto HB 7069 and the 2017-18 State Budget.


Marianne Capoziello, PEA President, stated “It is disheartening that the Florida Legislature has abandoned its responsibility to ensure that our public school students have the resources they need to be successful learners. In fact, this year legislative leaders budgeted more for private education and corporate, for profit, charter expansion than they provide for an increase to K-12 Public education funding. When all is said and done, our schools will have less per student funding than we did during this school year. That means less for our classrooms and less for the programs our students need.”




She also spoke to the education train bill known as HB 7069 “The massive education bill contains parts of dozens of bills that were filed this session – many were never fully vetted through the committee process. But far worse than the lack of transparency in the process is how they have betrayed parents, teachers and students by cloaking a huge taxpayer funded hand-out to charter corporations with popular provisions, such as reduced testing and daily recess. We have never seen something this disingenuous come out of the legislature before. We call on the Governor to make this right. We stand to ask him to veto these bills and to do right by the students of Polk County and the state of Florida.”


Our teachers deserve more than bogus bonus schemes, our support staff deserve a budget that honors the work they do and not one that puts their vital jobs on the line. Then, most importantly, there is our students- they deserve a budget that funds their schools, one that honors the constitutional requirement of adequate funding for public schools and appropriate class sizes and one that does not divert their money into ill-conceived, poorly monitored, and unaccountable “for profit charters” or drive their teachers from the classroom. We stand here today School Board, Union, Teachers, Support Staff, and citizens and ask Governor Scott to do what is right and veto these pieces of legislation.  


Friday, May 12, 2017

Bargaining Update

The hearing with the Special Magistrate has concluded.  Now we have a waiting period for the parties to submit their briefs.  Once the briefs are submitted the Special Magistrate will issue a ruling.  When that ruling arrives the parties will have 20 days to file exceptions to the ruling. If exceptions are filed, the Polk County School Board will schedule a hearing to receive the positions of the parties and make a final recommendation for Tentative Agreements.  These Tentative Agreements then come to the bargaining unit members for ratification.

We will keep everyone apprised of the status over the summer by website and email.


Friday, March 10, 2017

The Polk Education Association (PEA), American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the Polk County School Board’s (PCSB) bargaining team met for mediation today. Marianne Capoziello, President of PEA said “the results were supremely disappointing”. The meeting began at 10 am and seven hours later, due to the District’s lack of honest intent, the mediation failed. Health insurance was the topic of the day and it took an inordinate amount of time to discuss issues PEA had brought to the attention of the School Board’s Tallahassee Attorneys weeks ago. “Today was a ridiculous adventure in wasting time. We worked all day and believed we might actually come to agreement on insurance and at the eleventh hour the School Board’s team intentionally through a wrench in the machine,“ said Capoziello.


Capoziello went on to say “of grave concern to the PEA bargaining team was the School Board’s economic offers, that were delivered to the team on a piece of torn legal paper, and labeled ‘non-recurring’. What is being offered is a one-time bonus of $375.00 for teachers and $200.00 for Para educators and ESP’s (secretary/clericals).” Team member were astonished by the lack of respect this offer represents. “Teachers and Support Staff, who are working longer and longer hours with greater responsibility have essentially been offered a 2 cent tip” stated Carolyn Bryant a teacher at Eagle Lake Elem., and a member of the PEA team.


It appears that the whole purpose of today was so the School Board could check a box that they mediated. PEA continues to ask, “Where is the intent to solve the concerns of the teachers and support staff? It is like they believe that teachers and support staff are a dime a dozen, while PEA and Polk’s parents and concerned citizens worry about the ever growing teacher shortage” stated Capoziello. To PEA’s surprise the teams never even met in the same room as the District did not want to have an opening session together. It is still up in the air as to whether there will be an additional mediation session.


PEA bargaining team member, Branden Lane, summed it up best when he asked, “I wonder how much longer teachers and support staff will tolerate the School Board playing these games?”