FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It’s too bad that union contracts prevent so many great teachers from making more money.

There seems to be a lot of money to be made in the Broward County, Florida school district, at least for those in the right positions.

A total of 402 employees made more than $100,000 in straight salary in 2013-14, with the top salary being $283,618.

Those relatively few employees collected a hefty total of $45 million in straight salary.

But relatively few teachers – the people on the front lines, actually teaching the kids – got in on the big bucks.

Only 83 of those top 402 salaries in the district went to teachers that year. The highest-paid teacher ranked 73rd on the list. There were only seven teachers among the top 100 paid employees, and five of them ranked 96 through 100.

Of course that was due to the artificial salary ceiling imposed by their union contract.

The salary step chart in the Broward Teachers Union’s 2014-15 collective bargaining agreement shows a salary range with a first-year figure of $39,000 and 22nd year compensation of $71,550. While there appear to be small bonuses for outstanding teachers, their pay is still chump change compared to what some employees are making.

Non-union employees are free to negotiate their own salaries, based on their personal work performance and perceived value to the district.

Nine of the Broward County district’s 10 highest paid employees in 2013-14 had the phrase “non-union” typed next to their titles on a published pay chart. That was also true for 27 of the highest paid 47 employees.

That doesn’t mean that belonging to a union cannot bring financial gain in the Broward County district. The principals have their own union, and they seem to be doing quite well.

The vast majority of the 402 employees making more than $100,000 are administrators, and well over half of them – 223 – are principals. In fact, 42 of the highest paid 100 employees are principals.

So what kind of results are the community getting for all of those very high salaries?

So-so, at best. While the district’s overall grade on its state report card improved from a C in 2013-14 to a B in 2014-15, there were certainly a number of trouble spots.

For instance, the number of elementary and middle schools in the district receiving a grade of “F” increased from 13 to 24.

Perhaps the results in some schools would be better if the district invested a bit more money in teachers and a little less on the big shots.

But that’s difficult in school districts with union contacts that keep quality teachers stuck on the same pay scale with the mediocre and downright bad ones.

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