The deal is struck after fourteen hours with a state mediator
Orange County Schools Educators Association President Marlene Simmons and her bargaining team began negotiations early Monday morning with the intention of stopping the flow of county school educators leaving Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) positions for better working conditions and salaries elsewhere.
With a two-year agreement that retroactively addresses their rising healthcare costs, the team believes they have a Tentative Agreement that members will support in the ratification vote to be held next week.
Most importantly, the settlement provides relief from the unilateral 146% increase in healthcare benefits imposed by OCDE last year, hitting members’ pocketbooks and causing further attrition. Teacher retention and continuity is a statistically significant factor in effective public schools. When educators and support personnel are invested and empowered to create a climate of trust and continuity, students succeed in far greater numbers.
The settlement also provides a pay increase of 3.5% for 2018 and an additional 3% for the 2019 school year that will help offset the high cost of living in Orange County.
Simmons remarked that in this round of negotiations her members had found their voice as education advocates; “When members come together and support improvements for their students, classrooms, and worksites, it makes all the difference.”