Contract settlement before return to work unlikely for Pasco County school employees
Aiming to complete talks before schools reopen Aug. 8, Pasco County school district and employee union representatives began contract negotiations in April.
Their target appears to be fading, though, as work resumes in two weeks, and the sides have yet to bring a pay and benefits proposal to the table. District officials have said they intend to offer 3 percent raises.
Negotiations didn't happen the week of July 18, as had been anticipated. And the bargaining scheduled for this week remained listed as time and location to be announced as late as this morning.
"We would love to have an agreement," United School Employees of Pasco negotiator Jim Ciadella told the Gradebook. "But we're clearly not there yet."
Ciadella expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of progress to the School Board at its July 19 meeting. He later explained that the USEP was disappointed with the lack of movement on several key ideas that the union proposed, such as allowing school-related personnel to transfer jobs based on seniority in certain situations.
The USEP also has asked the district to reestablish an employee attendance incentive pay program, and to protect jobs of teachers who receive "effective" or "highly effective" evaluation ratings, among other issues.
"We've had a lot of discussion but little movement from the district on our proposals, and I'm frustrated," Ciadella said.
District negotiators Tom Neesham and Kathy Scalise said negotiations are moving well, from their perspective. The sides have agreed to several memorandums of understanding, they said, and are close to money talks.
The district has done what it can so far, they continued, and did not see the USEP proposals as likely. The district has rebuffed the teacher contract guarantee over the past few years, for instance, with its leadership insisting that such an idea is not legal under the state's law regarding annual contracts. Some other districts including Manatee and Orange have offered similar deals in the past.