Pinellas teachers union president questions cost of Lastinger contracts
Pinellas school board members are not the only ones with concerns about the district's teacher training partnership with the University of Florida's Lastinger Center. Teachers union president Kim Black told The Gradebook that because of budgetary concerns, she doesn't think now is the right time to renew two contracts with the center.
"I just don't think it's responsible," she said, given that district employees are facing other recent and potential financial hardships, including mandated contributions to retirement, elimination of some classroom units, an increase in health insurance costs and the possibility of furloughs. "I think professional development is critical," she continued. "But at this time, at what cost?"
The two contracts, totalling about $1.6 million, go before the board July 26. The district funds come from federal grants that district officials say must go towards professional development, whether Lastinger-related or not.
Black's response: "With this budget shortfall, everything should be on the table until the employees compensation is made whole. It's a commitment made by the employer. I'm sure money can be moved around. It's all one piece of the same pie."