Pasco County school employees ratify contracts
Pasco County's teachers and school-related personnel ended a yearlong contract dispute late Thursday with near unanimous support of an agreement that gives them 3 percent raises, retroactive to the start of the school year.
The United School Employees of Pasco announced that 96 percent of teachers who voted, and 98 percent of school-related personnel, backed the plan that district and union representatives hashed out in late April. The School Board approved the agreement on May 2.
The sides reached a deal after receiving different recommendations from the two special magistrates that heard their cases. The magistrate who took up the SRP contract agreed they should get 3 percent raises, while the one who heard the teacher contract said the district could not afford the raises.
Hoping to avoid forcing the School Board to make a final decision, the sides met to seek a middle ground. They determined that, because of retirements and resignations during the year, the same amount of money the district offered early in the negotiations could now cover the number of remaining employees with larger pay increases.
The union did not get its way on one other key request, to guarantee teachers on annual contract an added year of employment if they get an evaluation rating of "effective" or better and have no disciplinary problems in their record.
"Although it is not what we had ultimately sought and hoped for, it is our belief that this settlement reflects the best outcome given the current political circumstances," USEP president Kenny Blankenship said in a released statement.
In a May 9 letter to employees, superintendent Kurt Browning said the district was preparing for an anticipated ratification so workers could get their back pay as soon as possible. He wrote that teachers and SRP should get a single check of the full amount owed on June 30. Nonbargaining employees, who received 2.65 percent raises in the fall, will get a check for the balance up to 3 percent on July 14, he added.
The sides are planning to return to the bargaining table to discuss the 2017-18 contract in the next few weeks.