Pasco school employee contract negotiations remain stalled
When representatives from the Pasco school district and employees union last met in August, they decided to take a short break until the 2015-16 annual financial report became available in late September.
That time has come and gone, and the sides appear no closer to returning to the bargaining table. United School Employees of Pasco leaders said they now want to see the latest official student counts, due at week's end, but even those might not be enough.
"I don't see any rush to get back to the table," said director of services and operations Jim Ciadella. "At this point, we are a little uncomfortable. The district team came in and, for all intents and purposes, their initial financial offer to us was, in the same breath, their final financial offer. That did not leave a good taste."
Ciadella added that the district has not made written counter-offers to any of the USEP's proposals, such as an attendance incentive for school-related employees or job security for annual contract teachers who get effective or highly effective evaluations.
"About 40 other school districts have found a way to provide that kid of additional security to their people." Ciadella said, noting that Pasco has rejected the idea three years running.
Pinellas is the latest to agree to such a provision in its bargaining. (See the contract addendum on page 4 of this document.)
District employee relations director Kathy Scalise said the administration does not read state law on contracts as the others have, and it cannot accept such terms. She said the superintendent and School Board wanted to have the contract, including raises of about 2.5 percent on average, finished before classes began in August, and they still want to have a quick agreement if possible.
The district's negotiating team has kept weekday evenings open for negotiations to resume, Scalise said. "We're really just waiting for them to be ready to talk. ... We'd like to be talking again."
Ciadella said the USEP wanted to have talks, too, but only if they're meaningful.