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 PEA Contracts Ratify!

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All Three Contracts Ratify

October 2, 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 with 407 votes YES and 19 votes NO. The Paraeducator contract was ratified with 859 votes YES and 28 votes NO. The Teacher contract was ratified with 2463 votes YES and 307 votes NO.


 The School Board voted on September 18th to approve 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 Cost of Living (COLA) and increases in their October paychecks and it will be retroactive to the start of the school year for most employees and to July 1, 2018 for those whose contract year started at that time.


In Solidarity,

  Marianne Capoziello, PEA President 



The School Board Voted to Accept the PEA Contract Changes

September 18, 2018

Today the Polk County School Board voted to approve the tentative bargaining agreements it has with the Polk Education Association (PEA). These agreements include salaries, health insurance, and contract language for the teachers, paraeducators, and secretary/clerical (ESP) represented by the PEA.


The next phase of the ratification process is the vote of the teachers, paraeducators, and secretary/clerical employees. The ratification ballots will be delivered to all worksites and schools on Monday September 24th and must be returned to the PEA office by 5 pm on October 2nd when the official ballot count will begin. All stakeholders will be apprised of the final outcome at conclusion of the count.


Should the count reflect acceptance of the agreement the wage increase will come on the October paychecks. “While the settlement is certainly not all that the employees deserve, it does represent forward movement. The addition of the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) was also important as it improved the value of each pay level and there is also level movement for all affected staff,” stated Marianne Capoziello, PEA President.


The cost changes to the employee health insurance plan was a part of this negotiation table. The stability of the health plan was a large concern. The district’s initial insurance proposal was severe. We were pleased that the Superintendent and her team and the School Board worked with the PEA bargaining team to bring forth rational changes to the plan. These are the first major adjustments to the plan in over 5 years. While insurance increases are always difficult, we must work to have a solvent plan. The School Board’s Employee Clinics remain free to employees and their insured dependents. This agreement also has the school district increasing the monthly per employee insurance premium it pays itself. “It is my hope that the School Board looks at the insurance plan on an annual basis and makes routine adjustments as health care costs do not stay static and our wage and benefits packages are a strong element of gaining and retaining the quality teachers and support staff the students of Polk deserve.” says Capoziello.


For sustainable forward movement, the Florida Legislature must make the funding of public education a priority. The paltry three cent per student increase to the basic student allocation (BSA), the lack of PECO dollars, and the tremendous number of unfunded mandates, cripple the district’s budget and limit funding available for wages and benefits. They are harming public schools and public school employees.


You will find a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) developed by PEA from questions asked by employees under WHAT'S NEW. 


Tentative Agreement  for Teacher, Paraeducator and ESP/Secretary Contracts!

September 10, 2018

As promised PEA is pleased to announce that we have come to a tentative bargaining agreement for 2018-19. We have several things to celebrate! Things like a Cost of Living Increase of $300 on each salary schedule as well as employees moving an experience level if they worked more than half of 2017-2018. This combined total movement, COLA and experience or performance step makes up your increase for 2018-2019. The Health Insurance plan was not adequately funded and there are changes that must be addressed to premiums, co-pays and deductibles to ensure the health plan remains solvent. These are the first changes in more than 5 years. The health plan needed to be made solvent and PEA worked to minimize the changes that were initially proposed by the district. Although no change is easy, one new change will be the use of Walgreens as our sole pharmacy provider. This decision was made because it saves our health plan more than $2 Million Dollars per year and more that 87% of our staff already use Walgreens. We looked at the number and proximity of Walgreens in Polk County to employee homes and schools and felt the benefit to the long term health of our insurance plan was worth the change. You will also see that the School Board will increased the money it puts into the plan on a monthly basis as well. These changes allowed us to minimize some of the district’s initial proposed increases. There are other language changes and you will see them noted below as well. Please read the changes carefully so that you and see where we started and where we were able to come to a middle ground. You can follow the health plan changes from initial proposals to the final agreement in the document below. Changes to the health plan, should you ratify, will occur in January of 2019. PEA has asked for the raises to occur on the October paycheck and I am awaiting the district’s response.  


Your PEA Bargaining Team recommends a yes vote for ratification. You will notice 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. For your convenience, the changes have been highlighted in yellow to make them easier to locate. 


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 access this information in the Staff Portal. We recommend that you save a screen shot of the current portal so you can compare it to the new data once the contract is approved and the salaries are input. PEA is also available and will we will do an FAQ email as we see the main questions that are arising.


Your PEA Bargaining Team, PEA Staff and PEA Officers 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, Marianne  


The PEA-PAC has endorsed the following candidates

September 6, 2018

Candidates for School Board


District 3 – Sarah Fortney is a teacher with 33 years of teaching experience. She will be a strong teacher voice and also understands the importance of support staff work.


District 5Jennifer Sabin is a strong parent activist. She believes that the Florida Accountability System is broken and works to bring an end to “test and punish.”


District 6Lynn Wilson (elected)


District 7 – Lisa Miller (elected in the primary)


Candidates for State Office


Robert Doyel—State Senate District 22


Andrew Gillum—Governor


Sean ShawAttorney General


Jeremy RingChief Financial Officer


The Republican candidates were invited and chose not to participate in the endorsement process, therefore we have no recommended Republican candidates in the primary.


For more information on voter registration and polling places visit the Polk Supervisor of Elections


Guardian Program

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.  


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.