Thursday, October 18, 2018

Possible progress in Hillsborough teacher pay conflict

There might be a breakthrough in a months-long pay dispute between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers.

Chief of Staff Alberto Vazquez has called the School Board to a closed-door meeting on Monday morning.

“We would like to hold an Executive Session on Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. in the staff conference room to discuss an important update prior to negotiations with HCTA [teachers union] at 3:00 p.m,” Vazquez wrote in an email that went out Friday evening. “Thank you for your participation and I apologize for the last minute request.”

School Boards can meet behind closed doors in special circumstances, as when they are discussing litigation or labor negotiations.

The meeting could result in an agreement to offer some money to the teachers, who under the current proposal are not getting credit for their last year's work, for pay purposes. That means about a third of the teachers, who were expecting raises of $4,000 in accordance with a pay plan published in 2013, would not get that money.

Superintendent Jeff Eakins has stressed that despite the pay plan, salary is an item that must be negotiated yearly; and that when money is tight, the district must adjust its spending. 

Other issues are still under negotiation when the two sides meet at 3 p.m. Monday at the teachers' West Tampa union hall, including cost of living raises for classroom aides and secretaries.

The regular School Board meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Barring a breakthrough, teachers were mobilizing to protest and speak out at Tuesday's meeting as they did on Nov. 14.

The Tampa Bay Times will live-tweet both public meetings.

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