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Pinellas union director Jade Moore dies



JademooreJade Moore, the executive director of the Pinellas teachers union for 34 years, died this morning at Mease Dunedin Hospital after suffering a stroke Tuesday. He was 61.

Moore grew up in Pinellas County and attended Belleair Elementary and Clearwater Junior High. He graduated from Clearwater High in 1965 and received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of South Florida.

He began his career as a Pinellas County teacher, working six years at Safety Harbor and Largo junior high schools and at Largo High before becoming director of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association in 1974.

Long active in area politics, he was a founding member of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, the group known for hosting and roasting politicians over lunch.

Moore often could be counted on for his frank, colorful, frequently humorous and sometimes profane assessments of education issues -- from the policies of former Gov. Jeb Bush (which he found distasteful) to merit pay for teachers to the superintendent’s performance. A voracious reader, he would return from summer vacations with reviews of the many books he had tackled in the North Carolina mountains.

Moore worked with five superintendents, including superintendent Julie Janssen, a long-time Pinellas administrator whose candidacy he helped champion this summer over outside candidates from Miami and Orlando. He was convinced that the Pinellas school system did better under home-grown leaders.

Toward the end of his life, Moore’s successes included spearheading a push for a special property tax to enhance teacher salaries and fund art, music, reading and technology programs. Voters approved the tax in 2004 and renewed it in 2008. The tax helped finance significant increases in teacher salaries in recent years and made Pinellas teachers the highest paid in the Tampa Bay area.

More recently, the union under Moore successfully challenged a money saving plan by the district to force middle school teachers to work an extra period for the same pay. An arbitrator ruled against the plan earlier this month.

Moore, however, had not been able to break through during the district’s latest budget crisis. The union and the district were still bargaining on a new contract when he died, and Pinellas teachers have not had a raise this year.

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Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writer

In his words: Mr. Moore was an occasional guest columnist on St. Petersburg Times opinion pages.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:08am]


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