Forget Race to the Top, focus on contract, Pasco teachers tell school board members
With more than $8 million on the line, the Pasco County School Board and administration have taken great pains to prepare a Race to the Top plan that would meet federal requirements for changes in such areas as teacher evaluations and pay.
When they submitted the proposal to Tallahassee last week, though, they did so without the support of the United School Employees of Pasco. USEP president Lynne Webb told the board she was not prepared to sign the agreement, but that shouldn't stop the district from moving ahead, just in case.
On Tuesday, Webb sent union business representative Ed Ronda to the board to deliver a message: Don't look for the USEP to start talking about Race to the Top while teachers and other employees can't get a decent contract.
Ronda noted that Florida education commissioner Eric J. Smith already has told districts that the state will distribute first-year RTTT funding even without union support, to get the work started. "Let's negotiate the contract and worry about Race to the Top later," Ronda told the board.
He noted that employees "feel unappreciated and definitely overburdened," and said the district's contract offer was disappointing at best. He urged the board not to give in to legislative "terrorism," referring to threats over the use of federal stimulus funds for education jobs, and asked them to negotiate in good faith over what's known this year and to worry about next year when it comes.
Board members did not respond.