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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco teacher negotiations continue, with big issues approaching

Wages for classroom teachers who substitute for their absent colleagues gained the most significant attention during this week's contract negotiating session between the United School Employees of Pasco and district representatives.

USEP lead negotiator Jim Ciadella said the union continues to pursue its proposal to raise the pay rate for that extra work. "We think it is a valuable option for a school district that is having trouble finding subs," Ciadella said.

District officials did not accept the idea, employee relations director Betsy Kuhn said, but neither did they reject it. They continue to look at the cost estimates and whether the district can afford the change, Kuhn said, adding that the two sides will have to agree on priorities as they attempt to reach deals on many financial items.

The bigger picture money issue -- salaries -- is slated to arise soon enough, with a joint meeting of the teacher and school-related personnel negotiating teams set for July 15 in the district's main board room. Chief finance officer Olga Swinson is expected to present the latest budget information to the sides as they prepare to tackle raises and benefits.

Another controversial subject also is likely to arise within the next week or so of talks: The district team has made no secret of its desire to ban smoking and tobacco use on district property, but the contract has provisions in place making that difficult to impossible. Look for a proposal to change the agreement, to pave the way for a tobacco ban like so many other districts and colleges have adopted.

What the tradeoff might be remains unclear. 

Negotiations continue next week, with two sessions for the teachers, on July 8 and July 10. The SRP teams won't come together again until the July 15 meeting. Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Thursday, July 3, 2014 10:42am]


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