Is a raise in Pasco school employees' future?
Pasco County school employees' current year contract hasn't been ratified yet. But that isn't stopping district leaders from looking ahead to 2013-14.
Key players in superintendent Kurt Browning's administration have made clear that they want raises to be part of the picture, even as they face a projected revenue shortfall of approximately $23 million.
"The people are the most important thing, and they haven't seen a raise in a very long time," assistant superintendent Amelia Larson told the Gradebook. "We made a commitment to try to give at least a token as a promise of what we stand for, that we do value them."
She mentioned 1 percent as a target, which would cost the district about $3.5 million -- just a bit less than it seeks to save in eliminating media specialist and literacy coach jobs at the schools. Some media specialists have accused the administration of playing "raise politics," pitting one group of staff against another for extra pay.
In the past, the School Board has adopted a stance of favoring full employment over salary hikes. Board members told the Gradebook they don't want to have layoffs and they'd like to give raises, too. But neither is easy, they said.
"We are grappling with that $23 million deficit that we have to address in some way," chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong said. "We've just been cutting and cutting all these years. It's really difficult to find somehwere to cut that doesn't have a big impact."
Does that mean raises might again take a back seat?
"Any budget issue is not a done deal until we go through the entire budget process," Armstrong said.
Vice chairwoman Alison Crumbley echoed that view, not just for raises but for all the administration's recommendations, including the proposed media specialist job changes.
"It's a decision that hasn't even been made yet and may not be made," Crumbley said. "We haven't even had our first budget hearing yet, so we don't have all the information."
The board has scheduled its first budget workshop for April 16.