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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Hillsborough teachers, district remain divided on contract issues

TAMPA -- One day they're close to an agreement. Next day, not so much.

With negotiators from the Hillsborough County schools and teachers' union due to resume contract talks at this hour, union officials say they're not yet prepared to accept a district proposal for furloughs next year, even if they take place in the spring semester.

"We don’t want to agree in advance to future cuts," said Jean Clements, president of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers' Association. "If we need to come back to the table, we can come back to the table."

District negotiators have said they anticipate a $10.9 million budget shortfall in the coming school year. They say the gap could be erased with unpaid furloughs -- two days off for teachers, and three days for administrators and other 12-month staff -- that would save $11.3 million.

Union officials say a brightening economic picture could raise revenues and ease that shortfall, and perhaps allow teachers to take their regular 2 percent step increase on the salary scale.

But last month deputy superintendent Dan Valdez told the union such a raise would be impossible in the current budget climate.

Negotiators have reached a tentative accord to cancel school for the entire week of Thanksgiving, when attendance typically suffers, and add those days elsewhere as a cost-saving measure.

There's less agreement on a union proposal to dismiss school early once a week to give teachers extra planning time.

"We’re still saying our teachers desperately need this planning time, and they don’t have enough time now," Clements said.

For more details and updates, visit the Gradebook at or read tomorrow's St. Petesburg Times.

-- Tom Marshall, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:28am]


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