Make employees your 'pet project'
If employees are so important to the school system, the Pasco School Board should prove it, representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco told Board members Tuesday evening.
With contract negotiations set to resume this week, the union reps aimed to pressure the board publicly by talking about how employees face a decline in spending power if wages remain the same.
They noted that the board has yet to commit to paying annual step increases much less offering raises. Yet there seems to be plenty of money for "pet projects" such as the Learning Focused Solutions staff development program that many teachers dislike, they said during comments to the board.
"The question is, among you who is really willing to make the employees be the pet project of this district?" said Robert Benjamin, chief negotiator for the non-instructional staff, suggesting the money is available if the board commits it.
Both sides have agreed to postpone pay and benefits discussions until after July 31, when the district should have firm numbers for the costs associated with health and prescription insurance for the coming year. Board members did not respond to the comments, though they did encourage superintendent Heather Fiorentino to get budget information to the USEP as it becomes available.
The board also scheduled a closed-door session for 4 p.m. Tuesday to discuss negotiations.