MIAMI — The ongoing debate in Florida and the nation between teachers and public school administrators has yielded dissention, frustration and distrust, only to create an educational environment for our children that leaves much to be desired.

But, in Miami-Dade County, the teachers’ union, United Teachers of Dade and Miami-Dade County Public Schools seem to have resolved their differences.

On Monday, August 19, the UTD and M-DCPS entered into a tentative contract agreement on salaries and benefits according to the teachers UTD website. The tentative agreement will be subject to vote by the members of UTD on September 8, and the M-DCPS Board will vote on the agreement on September 9. If approved by both, the terms of the agreement will be retroactive to July 1.

Below are some highlights of the tentative agreement:

• The salary and benefits compensation package for UTD employees grows by 4%; worth over $52 million.

• Instructional employees receive pay increases effective July 1, 2015, ranging from 1.23 to 6% dependent on the employee’s current step.

• 85% of employees will see a salary increase equal to or greater than the current step.

• Salary increases are retroactive to July 1, 2015.

• The new Minimum/Maximum Salary Schedule is sustainable and in compliance with current Florida Statutes mandates as modified by Senate Bill 736 (The current step model is not in compliance and is not sustainable).

• Most employees who pay for dependent care and choose either OAP 20 or Local Plus will have a premium decrease with no reduction in benefits.

• Co-pays and co-insurance rates remain the same for OAP 20 and Local Plus.

• Education Support Employees on the top step get a 2% increase and all other ESP’s get a 2.75% increase effective July 1, 2015.

• The Value Adjustment Board (VAB) lawsuit filed by UTD helped to maximize the funds available for salary increases.

• Implementation of IPEGS summative evaluations to 50% based on observation, 15% based on Deliberate Growth Practice Target (DGPT) completion and 35% based on Value Added Model (VAM).

• The sick leave bank remains viable and employees should have fewer days deducted in the future.

• Creating a way for qualified Paraprofessionals to become a teacher and keep some job security as a Paraprofessional if they need to return to the position.

• A guarantee that employees leave one (1) hour early on Election Day if it is also a District Professional Development Day.

• Creation of contractual language that limits new payroll deductions for companies that sell employees products not approved in the model plan.  This protects employees from products that have not been scrutinized by financial professionals.

• Contract language that simplifies the process for schools voting on block and Secondary School Reform Initiative (SSRI) schedules.