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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco teachers union leader remains unsure about Race to the Top

While other Florida teachers unions are signing on, United School Employees of Pasco president Lynne Webb continues to have her doubts about joining the state's Race to the Top effort.

It's not that she relishes saying "no" to the idea of reform. Over the years, the USEP has supported targeted efforts in performance pay and other concepts embedded in the federal initiative.

Rather, Webb tells the Gradebook, she's reticent to sign away the employees' working conditions on the hope that the Pasco district administration will not impose new rules that the teachers simply can't agree to. And after meeting with the district's lead negotiator on Thursday, Webb is still not convinced that won't happen.

"I got a sense that they were uncomfortable if they had to sign a side agreement," Webb said. "I don't know where we're going with it."

Many of the districts that have won full support for Race to the Top -- including Miami-Dade, Orange, Pinellas and Hillsborough -- have either had a hand in crafting the new agreement or have enjoyed longtime good relationships between their administrations and unions.

USEP and superintendent Heather Fiorentino, by contrast, have frequently locked horns. Webb hopes a local agreement in which the district agrees to skip impasse if they can't come to terms on RTTT items might iron over any rough spots and let her sign.

"If we're not going to be real partners in it, I guess we'll have to wait for other districts to pave the way," Webb said.

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 10:06am]


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