Pinellas rejects STAR
Taking a cue from its teachers, the Pinellas School Board voted 5-2 Tuesday night to reject a plan that would have given 5 percent bonuses to 25 percent of its teachers.
The vote unfolded in dramatic fashion as board member Nancy Bostock made a motion to approve the plan and no one seconded it. After a second motion to vote against the plan, board member Jane Gallucci called the question after only two of her colleagues had a chance to speak, forcing an immediate vote.
The entire episode took about 12 minutes. The decision means Pinellas turns down $6.1-million in bonus money that would have gone to teachers under the Special Teachers Are Rewarded plan, known as STAR. But critics said STAR was deeply flawed and was forced on districts.
In addition, the state has threatened to force the district to impose a plan anyway and pay for it out of the current budget. The cost could be $6.1-million, a sum the district doesn’t have. Officials say one way to find the money would be to forgo pay raises next year for all district employees.
With Tuesday’s vote, Pinellas became one of a handful of counties to defy the state’s STAR mandate. Voting for the plan were board members Nancy Bostock and Mary Brown, who said giving the money to teachers was better than turning it down. Voting against STAR were Gallucci and board members Janet Clark, Carol Cook, Linda Lerner and Peggy O’Shea.
In voting at schools Monday and Tuesday, Pinellas teachers rejected the plan by a vote of 4,266 to 191.
- Tom Tobin, Pinellas County education reporter