Pasco teachers to protest pay freeze
It may amount to nothing more than a fruitless gesture. But Pasco school employees want their superintendent, School Board and the public to know exactly how upset they are with the recommendation to take away their annual raises based on years of experience.
So the United School Employees of Pasco has asked all district employees to wear black on next Wednesday, the last day of classes, and then for everyone to leave their campuses in unison when their contracted day officially ends - not an hour or two later, as many often do.
"They felt it was very important that they have the opportunity to send one last message before the end of the school year," USEP president Lynne Webb said of the group's school-based leadership team, which has taken the idea back to each school for buy-in. "There is a lot of concern out there ... that the district is not seriously trying to see what it can do to honor the contract and honor the step increases."
School Board vice chairman Frank Parker, for one, told the Gradebook that the district is doing its best to balance the budget without hurting employees. He noted that plans do not include layoffs, nor do they ask workers to pay more for benefits. A demonstration will have little effect, Parker said.
"We've got only x number of dollars to work with," he said, pointing to the state's budgeting crisis. "We're the middleman in this transaction and we're getting all the heat. They should have been in Tallahassee three months ago."
Visit the St. Petersburg Times or tampabay.com tomorrow for the full story.
Related stories: There is little sympathy for teachers facing a wage freeze (5/29/08); Pasco teachers press for raises (5/20/08); Budgets may keep Pasco classrooms packed (5/17/08)