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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Debate reignites over how many periods Pasco secondary teachers should teach



In making budget cuts a year ago, the Pasco County School Board eyed the $12 million in projected savings it could reap if middle and high school teachers instructed six periods a day instead of five.

Board members rejected the idea, but warned that it could reemerge again for 2011-12 if the district's financial situation didn't improve.

It hasn't. And superintendent Heather Fiorentino's team is actively looking at whether "six-of-six" is a viable option to bring to the table for negotiations.

United School Employees of Pasco president Lynne Webb blasted the administration earlier this week for allowing some of its leaders imply that six-of-six will come regardless of negotiations. "It is not a done deal, and that message should not be coming across to teachers that way," Webb said, imploring the board to change the tone.

Assistant superintendent Tina Tiede, who's been heading the investigation into whether the idea is worth pursuing, took exception to Webb's criticism.

Tiede noted that the district has invited USEP representatives to sit in on the review, and they have refused to come.

"It's been very hard, because we have to look at options to reduce the deficit," she said. "We can't put that discussion on hold."

Principals need to figure out what their schools might look like with a new teaching schedule, she said, in case the subject is approved through negotiations. "We can't decide at the last minute to do those things," Tiede said.

Some Pasco teachers have grumbled for several years now about their lack of raises paired with increasing costs of benefits and added responsibilities. The talk of having them teach more hours in a day isn't going down well with everyone. They've suggested that the district look elsewhere to cut.

But salary and benefits make up the vast majority of spending in the district. So the administration is looking there, too.

What's your take on where this debate is headed? Are there any good options in this cost-cutting season?

[Last modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 6:17am]


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