Pasco school district edges closer to salary talks

Pasco County teacher and school district representatives meet for collective bargaining on July 12, 2018. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Pasco County teacher and school district representatives meet for collective bargaining on July 12, 2018. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Published October 3 2018

The Pasco County School Board held a closed door session Tuesday to discuss its approach to pending employee contract talks over pay.

Board members lately have advocated for raises above the 1 percent the administration said could be made available. When it came time to approve the 2018-19 budget, though, the board okayed the plan without any major spending shifts.

Members agreed to wait until mid October, when they know how much money will come from enrollment growth beyond the state's projections. They also entertained conversation about a longer-term idea of extending teacher work days in exchange for more money.

That "six of seven" plan generated significant opposition and is now officially dead, both superintendent Kurt Browning and board vice chairwoman Alison Crumbley said in separate conversations.

And while they're not sharing the details of executive session, Crumbley sounded optimistic about the possibilities.

"Staff clearly put a lot of work into following our directive," she said Wednesday.

United School Employees of Pasco officials said they anticipated putting the first economic proposal on the table, and then getting a response from the district.

"We usually come in with a number that we think we can get to," said USEP operations director Jim Ciadella said. "Then we have some conversations to get to what we think is acceptable."

One goal, he said, is to get a settlement that's better than last year's version. Before they make any moves, though, the USEP leaders want to see the most updated financial figures available to the district.

To that end, the district is setting up a time for union negotiators to meet with chief finance officer Olga Swinson, most likely early next week, employee relations director Kathy Scalise said.

Scalise anticipated that bargaining would resume shortly afterward, at the very least to complete non-economic issues still on the table such as employee evaluation updates. That way, the rest of the time could be spent talking salaries and benefits.

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