Pasco seals its teacher, support staff contracts
Pasco school employees will get no raises, no step increases, and a small increase in their health insurance benefits.
Now on to the tough year.
"We are very pleased that this year's negotiations are behind us and now we can (begin) next year's," United School Employees of Pasco vice president Frank Roder told the School Board this morning.
Roder called the deal one of the worst the workers have ever seen. The lengthy negotiations, which began in the summer, featured employee protests and went to impasse at one point. One attempt at mediation failed. But talks restarted before going to a special magistrate, as both sides sought to reach an agreement reflecting the deterioration of Florida's economy.
Roder said he "hopes and prays" the district will be able to balance the 2009-10 budget on someone else's shoulders: "Without increases in salaries, we're going to lose some of our brightest and best teachers and SRPs (school-related personnel)."
Board chairman Frank Parker pointedly noted that the decision isn't entirely up to the board. "We hope and pray that our legislators will find more money to pass on to us also," Parker said.
The board unanimously ratified the contract this morning after learning that the USEP also had approved the deal. The final employee vote went like this:
Teachers -- 3,497 of 5,096 eligible teachers voted, with 3,086 (88 percent) in favor and 411 opposed.
School-related employees -- 2,394 of 2,781 eligible workers voted, with 2,122 (91 percent) in favor and 213 opposed.