We can work it out
Pasco School Board members didn't sign off this morning on superintendent Heather Fiorentino's fix to recent revelations that 43 employees had been over- or underpaid, some as long as 22 years. They signaled, though, a willingness to work things out with the United School Employees of Pasco - the sooner the better.
Board members set an executive session for 3 p.m. Thursday to talk about the issue. Two of them - Allen Altman and Frank Parker - said they would be satisfied to allow the administration to negotiate a one-time fix with the union.
"Let it come to us if they can't reach agreement," Altman said.
But board members Kathryn Starkey and Marge Whaley insisted on the closed-door session upon the advice of board lawyer Dennis Alfonso, who said the discussions could have broad implications for all employees.
At issue is whether the district can repay all underpaid workers their full lost wages while requiring overpaid employees to repay just two years' worth of their salaries. The contracts in place include other terms.
Fiorentino recommended the deal after district-generated errors that otherwise might never have surfaced came to light because of a state audit on wages. "I think it's important that we be fair," she said.
Starkey did not dispute that view. She did, however, pointedly note that some of the problem might have been avoided if the administration had contacted Alfonso sooner and kept the board in the loop as decisions were being considered.