BARTOW, Fla. - Polk County teachers and staff will receive pay increases between 2 and 3.5 percent if an agreement between the school district and Polk Education Association is approved.

The agreement ends an impasse that started in January over collective bargaining negotiations between the PEA and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

A compromise was previously reached with AFSCME.

Teachers will receive increased pay between 2 percent and 3.5 percent based on years of service and evaluations. The pay increase is retroactive to January.

Paraeducators and educational support staff will receive an annual increase of 2 percent.

The agreement also addresses the following issues:

  • Health insurance
  • Contract language regarding supplemental payments for teachers who hold advanced degrees
  • The inclusion of the teacher evaluation system manual in the collective bargaining agreement
  • Teacher transfers

"This impasse has been a wedge in our district for far too long," Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said in a statement. "We will never be able to pay our teachers what they deserve, but I am extremely pleased that we were able to reach a compromise and put the impasse behind us."

Educators need to lobby state lawmakers to increase education funding, Byrd added.

"Education is not adequately funded - not even close - which is why this impasse occurred in the first place," she said. "We have to make our legislators hear us and implore them to change our funding model for the better."

The agreement will be ratified at a future date, then go before the school board for approval.