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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco considers an unpaid day to save some cash



Budgetcuts_6 Facing budget cuts up to $37 million next year, Pasco County school officials are looking at every expense for possible trimming.

Employee pay, which runs $1.9 million a day and makes up more than 80 percent of the operating budget, offers a big target. And superintendent Heather Fiorentino has taken aim.

In talks with United School Employees of Pasco president Lynne Webb, and then with the district's new budget advisory committee, Fiorentino suggested that one budget cut might be to reduce the 2009-10 work calendar by one planning day.

"You don't have to come in. I don't have to pay you," she explained to the committee this morning.

Webb fell short of endorsing the idea, but she did indicate it was more acceptable than a pay cut. "Telling people they're going to have the opportunity to stay home, they're not going to get pay, is a little different," she said.

Reaction from the committee was mixed.

"It works for me. I'll take two," commented Pasco High teacher Grant Young.

But Richey Elementary teacher Sharon Pelchat expressed concerns.

"Yes, we have another day at home, but it's $180," she said. "It's a really hard issue. I sit there and go, whoo, this way, that way. ...  If there's no better way, I guess it's a solution I could swallow."

On potential stumbling block: Statute defines full-time teaching as 196 days.

Fiorentino said she wants to ask lawmakers for a one-year, one-day waiver, so that way the cut could not happen again without another act of the Legislature. (That's unlike a pay cut, which would remain on the books for a longer time.)

The committee also discussed other ideas, including moving to a four-day class week, encouraging early retirement for eligible employees and cutting sports. It plans to meet again April 15.

To communicate with the committee, e-mail to


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:15am]


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