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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

In Pinellas, no furloughs, no provisional contracts - and an extra $250 instead



As expected, the district and PCTA formally pulled furloughs off the negotiating table today, one working day after Superintendent Julie Janssen suddenly announced that the district’s budget picture was $8 million less bleak than projected.

But then it got really interesting.

In wrapping up contract talks, district negotiators also agreed to nix a plan to sign new teachers to cheaper, provisional contracts, and to support a union counter-offer to give every teacher a $250 training supplement.

District officials said the savings from the provisional contracts (about $2.5 million) would be offset by a plan, also tentatively approved Monday, to offer senior employees $27,000 in early retirement money. As for the cost of the training supplement (about $2.1 million), they suggested that with a nearly $900 million operating budget, they were close enough.

“We’ll tighten our belts. We’ll get there,” said Janssen, who sat down with the bargaining teams about 3:10 p.m., after they had haggled for five hours. This process "has been thought provoking ... and emotional at times. ... I'm really thrilled that we could get this done."

“In these times, it’s a good solid settlement,” teachers union president Kim Black told The Gradebook afterwards.

Both sides also agreed to shift a slightly bigger share of health insurance costs - about 20 percent of the total - to employees.

Black and district officials are expected to sign the tentative agreement Tuesday. It must still be approved by a majority of teachers and the school board.

Read more here.

[Last modified: Monday, July 26, 2010 9:06pm]


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