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The Direct Connection

 May 31, 2017

Good Wednesday morning Faculty, Staff and Administrators:

As this school year ends, I thank each of you for all you do for the students and families of Volusia County.  Each of us plays an important part in the mission of education.  Our traditional public schools are the means of opportunity for our children.

This is a particularly important school year for me as my youngest son is now a proud graduate of Pine Ridge High School.  I know each of you, too, has someone special in your life that is, or has been, connected to our public schools.

I want to bring a few pieces of good news to your attention before many of you begin your well-deserved summer breaks:

Promise Made, Promise Kept -- Raises Are Coming:  An additional average raise of 2.5% begins on July 1, 2017.  This is part of the two-year raise package approved last summer:  

  • Teachers and school-based administrators.  Because of state mandated performance pay requirements, the exact raise amounts for our teachers and school-based administrators cannot be calculated until the state releases testing data, referred to as VAM (Value Added Model) in the fall.
  • Office specialists and paraprofessionals.  A one-step increase on the salary schedule to those eligible under the collective bargaining agreement with the remaining balance applied to an increase in the hourly rate of pay on the salary schedules.
  • AFSCME bargaining unit employees.  A 2.5% increase added to hourly rates on all salary schedules.
  • Non-bargaining personnel.  A one-step increase on the salary schedule to those eligible with the remaining balance applied to the salary schedule.

Florida Health Care Plan premiums are going down by 4.17%:  I am proud to share with you that the district negotiated this reduction for the upcoming health insurance plan year that begins on October 1.  This is great news for our employees as most of us are enrolled in these plans, and it means a decrease in contributions for employees selecting the HMO or Triple Option Plan next year.  The Florida Blue Health Care plan premiums are going up by a projected 12.46%, because of the smaller number of employees on the plan.  This is more typical of rate increases experienced across the country. Those on Florida Blue plans may wish to switch to a Florida Health Care plan during open enrollment in August. The Board will vote on the proposed plans at the June 13th board meeting.

  • No increase to premiums for dental, life, vision or disability coverage.
  • Flexible spending plan: Funds can now be rolled over (up to $500) from one plan year to the next. 
  • Additional information on your benefits and upcoming open enrollment is available at: 2017-18 Health Insurance Information.

Many of us have been frustrated by the fact that the Florida Legislature cut education funding for the upcoming school year. But I will not focus on the negative. Terrific things are happening in our schools. Be proud of our district and your public service – I am certainly proud to work with you. 

Summer Regards,

Mr. James T. Russell
Superintendent of Schools
386/734-7190, extension 20210
Fax: 386/734-2842
Twitter: @jrussell_t

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