Layoff talk in Pasco is just talk, officials say
Rumors are flying fast and furious around Pasco County schools that this teacher or that bus driver is going to be out of a job come the end of the school year.
The United School Employees of Pasco spent the bulk of this week's representative council meeting reviewing the district rules for laying someone off, and how those compare to a reduction in force and an involuntary transfer.
But the bottom line remains: The district has not announced a single layoff.
"A lot of misperceptions are being communicated to people, or people are misunderstanding what they hear," USEP president Lynne Webb told the Gradebook.
There are some factors at play, of course:
- Many principals have been telling their staffs about worst-case scenarios. None have been implemented.
- The district is requiring four categories of reading specialists to apply for new jobs with different requirements. None of the teachers will be unemployed, though.
- Some teachers will have to move from one school to another, as student enrollments shift (particularly with the opening of two new schools). The 65 teachers hired on temporary contracts after the school year began will not be renewed automatically, as usual, though they are less likely than in past years to get rehired.
- With a hiring freeze in place, few openings are expected.
- The district has announced plans to eliminate its bus driver/instructional assistant job at its alternative schools. Officials say they plan to create a new job for the workers, but has yet to do so. The USEP has scheduled negotiations to advocate for these employees on Wednesday.
But the whole point of the hiring freeze, job shifts and so on is to protect current employees, employee relations director Terry Rhum noted.
"We have been very conservative in hiring and tried to be very creative in filling positions and trying to get people into places where they're needed the most," Rhum told the Gradebook. "We did it to try to get the best use out of our resources and avoid hiring people and then having to lay them off."
Both Webb and Rhum said they understood the anxiety and the confusion that's out there as budgets remain in flux and final decisions have yet to be made. They said the union and the administration will continue to send out information to keep employees up-to-date on the district's financial realities.
The district budget advisory committee, which includes several teachers, plans to meet again in May to discuss these and other issues.