Gradebook

Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pinellas superintendent declares impasse with union

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July

Pinellas superintendent Julie Janssen has declared an impasse over contract talks with the Pinellas teachers union, saying in a written statement issued last night that she and the School Board "believe that the impasse resolution process is the quickest means for reaching a fair and equitable agreement with our teachers."

The response from the union: The Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association is "perplexed" that the district would go to impasse without formally discussing the possibility with the union first, it said in a statement. The statement also said the union would not waive rights to a special magistrate, which is where this conflict appears headed.

"During this process, we will continue to bargain in good faith if the School Board will actually meet with us on the contract," the union statement said. "We are prepared but they have not come to the table in over a month."

At issue are teacher salaries.

The district is proposing two unpaid leave days, which would save the district $4 million. It also plans to reduce teacher pay because of declining property tax collections, which affect how much the district brings in from the half-mill property tax hike that voters approved in 2004 and reapproved in 2008.

The union has proposed one day off without pay but is pushing for teachers to receive their "step" increases in pay. It says the total cost would be about $4 million. It says the district position would cost the typical teacher $900.

"That's a difficult pill for any teacher to swallow who hasn't had a pay raise in 24 months," PCTA executive director Marshall Ogletree told the Gradebook this morning.

The union filed a grievance last week over the district's stance on the referendum money. It says the district made a unilateral decision and violated the contract with the union. The district maintains that the issue isn't subject to collective bargaining. 

Eighty percent of the referendum money goes to teacher salaries. But "the dollar amount attributable to that 80% will vary with the rise and fall of property values -- something that is beyond the control of the School Board," the statement says. "As a result of the property tax roll declining by almost 11%, the amount of the supplement declined proportionately." 

Ron Matus, state education reporter

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[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:29am]

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