Pasco teachers take another look at Race to the Top
Even when other Florida teacher unions jumped on the bandwagon, the United School Employees of Pasco rejected participation in Race to the Top.
Its leaders remained unconvinced that efforts to protect teachers' hard-fought employment rights would remain untouched once they agreed to negotiate on such matters as tying pay to student test scores -- regardless of the safeguards state officials said they had put in place.
Florida has now won $700 million of the federal grant. And USEP leaders have agreed to at least reconsider whether they might participate, allowing Pasco schools to claim their nearly $8 million share of the funds.
"We didn't agree to negotiate," USEP president Lynne Webb told the Gradebook after meeting with key district staffers Tuesday. "What we did agree to was to set up two dates ... to meet and bring in some outside resources."
The plan is to see what state law already requires that's in the Race to the Top plan, then determine where the district stands in adopting those rules. If the USEP can agree to claiming the money without forfeiting employment protections - perhaps via ongoing pilot projects such as a new performance pay plan at the district eSchool and differential pay through a school improvement grant at Ridgewood High -- maybe there's room to talk, Webb said.
Kevin Shibley, the district's employee relations director, said he was encouraged by Tuesday's sit-down.
"We definitely think there are some positive things there and some room to come up with a plan," he told the Gradebook. "Overall I think the meeting went well."