OCPS, teachers union strike deal

After a daylong hearing before the Orange County School Board, the school district and the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association found common ground.

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It took a last-minute compromise, but Orange County Public Schools and the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association have reached an agreement.

At the end of a daylong impasse hearing before the Orange County School Board Tuesday, March 5, at the Ronald Blocker Educational Leadership Center, OCPS and the OCCTA agreed on a nearly 10% pay raise for most teachers and a delay in employees paying the full cost of an increase to health insurance premiums.

The School Board approved unanimously the agreement late Tuesday afternoon.

Under the agreement, instructional staff rated as “highly effective” will receive an historic 9.7% average raise. The overall increase ranges from $3,775 to $7,950 per teacher (depending on rating), with the average increase being $5,400 annually. 

If ratified by a majority of OCCTA member teachers, salary increases will be paid retroactively to the beginning of the 2023-24 school year. 

Furthermore, proposed health insurance modifications will go into effect, June 30, 2024. However, OCPS agreed to offset 50% of any increases to premiums beginning in September for the 2024-25 plan year. The full increase in premiums will not go into effect until the 2025-26 school year. To accomplish this, the district will pay $4.4 million to cover those costs.

This will result in a $250 to $300 decrease in health insurance premiums per employee for 2024-25.

The $4.4 million will be applied equally to all employees employed with the district before July 1, 2024, OCPS attorney Jeffrey Mandel said. This premium discount or “holiday” will not be available to teachers who are hired after July 1.

Although School Board members said they were pleased an agreement was made, they also voiced frustration that it did not happen earlier to avoid an impasse hearing altogether.

“I cannot believe that it took you guys an hour in a room together to figure this out,” School Board District 7 member Melissa Byrd said. “I’m frustrated that we couldn’t have done this eight months ago.”

School Board District 4 member Pam Gould said she hopes the hour of collaboration that resulted in the agreement is a sign of a new working relationship between the district and union.

“I’m so glad we finally came to a collaborative bargaining arrangement, because that what it felt like, instead of collective where we have been that has been detrimental to all involved,” she said. 

OCCTA President Clinton McCracken said that spirit of collaboration was made impossible during this year’s negotiations because School Board members would not meet with the OCCTA.

“I have tried all year, in so many ways and so many times in conversations with some of you, to prevent us from being here,” he said to the School Board. “What didn’t happen this year is any conversation from any of you with us. It was all just me talking to you. … If we’re going to talk about the district and the union, we need to consider that you all are part of this conversation and bargaining, as well. You are responsible for some of the things that happen in bargaining, and none of you would talk to us.”

The earliest OCCTA member teachers can vote to ratify the agreement is March 28, McCracken said. If ratified, teachers will receive raises in April.



Michael Eng

As a child, Editor and Publisher Michael Eng collected front pages of the Kansas City Star during Operation Desert Storm, so it was a foregone conclusion that he would pursue a career in journalism. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Missouri — Columbia School of Journalism. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his wife and three children, or playing drums around town. He’s also a sucker for dad jokes.

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