Pasco teachers urge superintendent, board to support 'shares' for raises
The Pasco School Board is set to have a closed meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the fate of teacher raises.
Teachers are working hard to influence the outcome.
They've inundated superintendent Kurt Browning and the board members with emails, overwhelmingly supporting the United School Employees of Pasco proposal to divide money set aside for raises into shares that could be distributed based on years of service.
"We deserve to be rewarded for our fidelity. Please be a proponent of loyal teachers by supporting pay increases based on the number of years we've stuck with the district during the freeze. The idea of giving all teachers the same increase regardless of years of service is an insult to those of us whom remained loyal to Pasco rather than straying to other counties, Florida Virtual School, or away from education entirely," Gulf Middle teacher Emily Gallagher wrote.
She echoed the vast majority of those who sent in comments. But not all agreed.
River Ridge Middle teacher Mitch Binder used similar language, but made a very different point.
"I left a career in healthcare to teach so that I could see if I could help our students compete on the world stage," he wrote. "I work just as hard as everyone else. Anything less than a full share of the raise would be an insult to my efforts and to those who joined the teaching ranks recently."
Weightman Middle teacher Debbie Manzelmann, meanwhile, suggested that whatever direction the district goes, a long-term solution is required. After all, she noted, new teachers who start this year are making the same amount as those with five years under their belts.
Shares can get the district only part way to a fair plan, she suggested.
"The focus of salary increases should address leveling the salary scales across the board," Manzelmann wrote. "I know this will be a daunting task, but it is certainly the right thing to do. Simply dividing salary increases based on the number of years of service to Pasco does not address the whole group. It would make more sense to share the increases based on what we should be earning, and catching up to others in our profession."
District officials have said they plan to revisit the entire pay structure in the future. They hope to resolve negotiations, meanwhile, as soon as possible so employees can get added pay after years without.
"I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement that is fair and equitable to all our teachers," Browning responded to one teacher's email.