Keeping all of that in mind, Robert Spencer, the district’s executive director of financial services, laid out the new revenues and costs in the 2006-07 budget for the Collier County School Board on Thursday.

But $24.7 million in new expenses will cut into that money, including a $540,000 property/casualty insurance increase, which is dramatically more than the district’s original predicted figure of $250,000 to $400,000.

Other costs include about $4 million to implement changes to the high school and middle school schedules, and a $3.9 million increase in health insurance costs.

Michele LaBute, chief operating officer for the district, also told board members about the proposed increase to teachers, which was rejected Wednesday by members of the Collier County Education Association, the group that represents 80 percent of the district’s teachers.

The Collier County School District administration offered the teachers, who make up about 66.7 percent of the district’s salaries, $7.19 million in salary increases.

The $7.19 million breaks down to a $2.9 million increase in the district’s increment and benefits pay on its pay schedule, $3.3 million for a 2 percent salary and benefits increase, and an additional $900,000 to bring teachers with up to 3 years’ experience to the same salary step.

She also told board members there would be increases in expenses for the district relating to teachers. Those expenses include implementation of the $2.58 million STAR program, or Special Teachers Are Rewarded. The program, which has to be designed by the district and the union, will reward teachers with marked student achievement.

LaBute also told board members the district would give the teachers $6.5 million in “enhancements,” which are not financial gains for the teachers but would improve their working conditions. These include things such as $3.4 million to implement the 4x4 block schedule at the high school level and $2.5 million in class-size reduction costs.

LaBute’s explanation came after CCEA President Von Jeffers asked the district to have the fortitude to give teachers a decent increase in salaries after the district received an increase in its 2006-07 budget.

Board Vice Chairman Steven Donovan said in the four years he has been on the board, salaries for starting teachers have gone from “just over $30,000” to the district’s current proposal to increase the starting salary for a teacher to $36,750.

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We deserve, and this is a low estimate, an 8% minimum raise. If it's not that I would highly recommend the deli at Publix, real estate receptionist, or at home E-bay sales. Honestly, you'd make more and actually enjoy life a bit for a change.

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