Pasco school district, employee union officials might return to contract talks
The Pasco County school district and United School Employees of Pasco could resume collective bargaining as early as next week, officials from both sides told the Gradebook.
"We are reviewing our options," said Jim Ciadella, USEP operations director. "Chances are we will go back to the table next week in an attempt to hear a counter proposal from the school district."
The sides broke off talks nearly three weeks ago, after USEP president Kenny Blankenship declared the negotiations to have reached an impasse. They had not met since August before that.
Blankenship contended that the district appeared not to have any serious counteroffers to the union's requests on issues such as job security, or to the district's initial pay proposal.
District leaders have argued that the USEP did not give them adequate time to discuss items that arose at the Nov. 10 session that ended with the impasse declaration. Employees have since implored the School Board to reconsider its financial package.
"We can try to solve or settle anything" until an impasse hearing take place, said Kathy Scalise, district director of employee relations. "At the very least, we'd like to reduce the amount of stuff that goes to the magistrate."
The state has provided a list of potential hearing officers to both the district and USEP, which are reviewing the names for possible selection.
Ciadella said the USEP would be "more than happy" to resolve the impasse. But the district must bring something new to the table for consideration, he said, adding that the USEP might also bring different proposals.
Assistant superintendent Kevin Shibley stated in a recent email that his staff "will have a comprehensive counter-proposal ready whenever we are able to return to get the union back to the table."