Pasco County's teachers union, which overwhelmingly rejected participation in Special Teachers Are Rewarded, isn't showing much interest in jumping into the new Merit Award Program, either. Leaders worry that they just don't have enough time to negotiate a performance pay plan by the May 1 deadline that differs much from the STAR proposal that 87 percent of teachers thumped less than a month ago.
"I'm not sure if tweaking a plan that was so resoundingly rejected would fly with the teachers. I'm not sure that it would even fly with the School Board," United School Employees of Pasco president Lynne Webb told the Gradebook. "I will tell you that the overwhelming consensus in each focus group (of the group's building representatives) and when the groups were brought back together was the USEP should not revisit STAR or any other performance pay plan this late in the school year."
School district officials, meanwhile, have said they want to at least pursue a proposal, which would qualify Pasco for $3.5-million in bonus money for teachers. "I really want to get my teachers the money," said assistant superintendent Renalia DuBose, who is working to call a special board meeting to discuss negotiation strategy next week. "The Legislature is making changes and we are bound by law to present those to them. ... We'll put it on the table and they can say no and that's fine. But we're going to go through the process."
For their part, board members say they want to hear everything before weighing in. "I wish everybody would keep an open mind until we have a plan in place," vice chairwoman Kathryn Starkey said.