New tentative agreement between Pinellas and teachers union protects annual contract teachers in good standing
Public school teachers across Pinellas County can breathe a sigh of relief.
New language in the 2016-17 negotiations between the school district and the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association -- which is out for a vote now -- guarantees a renewal for effective and highly-effective teachers on annual contracts who are in good standing.
According to the tentative agreement signed Sept. 19, those teachers who meet all eligibility requirements, have not faced disciplinary action and, given that there is a spot still available at the school, will be recommended for a renewal by their principal and area superintendent. Teachers at the 18 turnaround schools can still be opted-out by their principal because those schools are under turnaround designation by the state.
Before, teachers could be non-renewed without reason and without due process.
"Since I've been president I've been fighting full-tilt against why it's absurd to look someone in the eye and not tell them what's wrong," said PCTA president Mike Gandolfo. "How would these young teachers not improve if you throw them into a difficult situation, you give them no support, and you tell them in the end they're not a good fit?"
He said the new provision will take stress off teachers, give a stronger sense of job security and improve morale. The district has 7,500 instructional staff members, and about half are PCTA members.
"It's a big win not just for the union, it's a big win for the annual contract teachers," Gandolfo said. "It's a big win for the entire district."
Gandolfo commended superintendent Mike Grego for "taking that leap."
"I told him flat out, 'Pinellas needs to be bold,'" Gandolfo said. "If we want to be that beacon of light in Florida and there's a teacher shortage, you need to be able to offer them some kind of job security."
The Gradebook has reached out to Dr. Grego for comment.
This year, PCTA sent out ratification ballots by mail on Monday to increase voter participation. Gandolfo said about 30 percent of teachers usually vote in annual ratifications. Envelopes with the ballots will be sent to schools, and teachers may submit their votes by placing them back in that envelope, giving it to their union representative, mailing it themselves or dropping it off at PCTA's headquarters in Largo.
Ballots are due Sept. 19. Gandolfo said the union has already received votes from one or two schools.