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Pinellas won't cut academic coaching supplements this year



The Pinellas school district has quietly postponed a controversial plan to cut hefty salary supplements for teachers in four advanced high school programs.

Superintendent Julie Janssen told The Gradebook today that long-range plans for the supplements - equal to 14 percent of the teacher’s pay - will continue to be a topic for discussion and future contract negotiations. But those teachers will not see their supplements disappear this fall, as district officials had announced in May.

"They’re going to get them," Janssen said.

"It’s going to be a big relief," said Carol Mathis, an International Baccalaureate teacher at St. Petersburg High. "For a lot of teachers, and especially some of the younger teachers, it was going to be a significant hardship."

The district proposed the cuts (valued at about $650,000) to help fill a $26 million budget deficit. But Janssen said she backed away for several reasons.

The supplements for three of the programs - all but the arts center at Gibbs - are included in the district contract with the teachers union. Cutting them would require negotiations, and the timing wasn’t right with other budget-cutting issues - such as furloughs - on the table, Janssen said.

Meanwhile, the magnet teachers needed to know now, as they were putting together next year’s schedules, whether they were working during their planning periods, she said.

"We really felt we couldn’t tie their hands at this point," Janssen said.

"That’s off the table for now," said board member Carol Cook. But it won’t be when the district and the union hash out a new contract next year, with an even bigger deficit of $54 million looming.

"If it’s not going to be used properly, then we need to do away with it," Cook said. "If there are other ways of meeting those needs, then we need to explore that, too."

Read more here.

[Last modified: Friday, July 16, 2010 2:42pm]


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