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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Rules for Pasco school employees who lost their jobs

There's been a lot of angst among Pasco County school employees who learned on Thursday that they won't have jobs in the fall.

And it's not all just big picture doom and gloom.

A lot of it relates to the details of daily life, such as what happens to their benefits, and how can they seek unemployment compensation.

The United School Employees of Pasco has put out a primer that explains how people might try to get their jobs back, and what they can do to protect their rights as district employees after the district's first ever mass layoffs. Read on to see the memo. 

"Information on Reduction in Force and Transfers

Yesterday, was a sad day for our school system. For the first time ever, the District instituted a reduction in force resulting in layoffs.  In the past, when there were allocation reductions, teachers were voluntarily/involuntarily transferred to other schools and SRP were laid off and recalled. No regularly-contracted teachers lost their jobs, and most SRP were either recalled or obtained other positions within the District. In many instances, the District was even able to hire back those teachers hired on temporary contracts.

This year is different because the District is reducing the total number of allocated positions. That means there will be fewer available positions to which to recall laid-off employees and fewer positions available to rehire those who had temporary contracts. 

Employees on temporary service contracts are hired for a specific period of time and are told upon hiring that their jobs end as of a specific date — usually the end of the school year. Of course, most of these employees desire permanent employment in our District, and, in the past, many actually were rehired once involuntary transfers are completed and job openings are posted. This year will be different.

After releasing all the temporary employees and looking at KNOWN retirements, the District still had to reduce its numbers. As a result, it declared a Reduction in Force (RIF) in certain areas. For teachers, these areas are VE, Media Specialist, Tech Specialist, PE, Art, Music, Staffing and Compliance, Behavioral Specialist, Cosmetology, and DCT.   Therefore the District laid off enough annual contract teachers in these areas to get schools within their allocations. Those remaining teachers in these areas may be transferred to other work locations but are not laid off. All other areas of assignment for teachers are not subject to a Reduction in Force (layoff) but may be subject to voluntary/involuntary transfers as the district seeks to bring all schools within allocations. During the time of RIF and involuntary transfers, all hiring in the affected areas of assignment is frozen until everyone is placed, and laid-off teachers are recalled.  

For SRP, the areas hit hardest are those who most closely serve our students in the schools: School Media and Technology Assistants, Instructional Assistants and Paras, Lunch room Monitors, and Clinic Assistants. These SRP will be laid off and recalled in accordance with seniority. Since there will not be enough positions to which to recall these SRP, they will be given preference when seeking other positions in the District. SRP stay on the recall list for a year, and as long as a recall list exists for a particular position, the District must fill vacancies in those areas from SRP on the recall list.

Unemployment: Teachers and SRP who are laid off are eligible for unemployment—even if they fully expect to be recalled before the start of the next year. Being rehired by the start of the school year is not guaranteed, so employees should protect their interests by applying for unemployment benefits as soon as their last workday. If they wait, they may lose some compensation since unemployment is not retroactive. 

Benefits: Most employees maintain their board-paid employee health insurance coverage through September 2011 but will need to continue to pay for dependent coverage. For more information on unemployment , benefits and other great resources, check out the excellent link on the District website: http://www.pasco.k12.fl.us/benefits/resources

Break in Service: Employees who are laid off then recalled are treated as if they are on an unpaid leave of absence and do not experience a break in service nor a loss of seniority even if they do not get recalled until after the school year begins. Employees who had temporary contracts and get rehired by the start of the school year will not experience a break in service. However temporary employees rehired after the start of the school year will experience a break in service and will again be on a temporary contract if a teacher. 

At this time USEP is requesting a list of all affected positions by worksite and all potential openings and will be closely monitoring the recall and transfer process. As employees retire and leave for other reasons, additional positions will open and help facilitate bringing employees back. As more information becomes available about the process, USEP will share with employees."

[Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2011 12:43pm]

    

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