PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — More than 1,200 Bay District employees will see a little more money going into their bank accounts.

The Bay Educational Support Personnel Association (BESPA) Union agreed on a contract with school district negotiators. 

Union leaders said the raises will help departments hire and retain employees.

“There’s a lot of people hiring, there’s a lot of jobs out there,” Union Executive Board Member Shaun Brown said. “And a lot of jobs that are paying pretty good. And it means a lot for our employees to be on par with the surrounding jobs.”

Bay District Schools CFO Jim Loyed said 78% of support employees currently make below $15. Support staff making more than $15 will also receive raises.

“Every year we have to prioritize what we’re going to do with our funds,” Bay District Schools CFO Jim Loyed said. “And we took to the board and to the unions in our flexible discretionary new dollars this year, we had a little over $4 million and the boards spending about $3.9 million on this one group.”

Florida’s school state-mandated $15 minimum wage does not go into effect until October. But Loyed said Bay District School wanted to give workers raises as early as possible to counteract inflation.

“I’ve talked to quite a few employees and there all very excited about getting a very nice raise,” Brown said. “It’s really going to help out with the gas prices and everything going up, and inflation.”

The average salary will increase by 20%. The agreement now has to be ratified by the workers, which Brown expects to happen in the next 10 days. Bay District Schools calculates how much more workers will make, once the new salary goes into effect July 1.