Pasco union, administration disagree over contract renewals
For five years, newly hired Florida teachers have not been able to get continuing professional services contracts from their schools. Instead, they get annual deals, and must win a renewal each year.
In the main, teachers with strong evaluations have easily gained extensions. But the number of nonrenewals has grown along with the number of annual contracts, which about half of Pasco County teachers now have.
In response, the United School Employees of Pasco is making a third stab at adding contract language that guarantees reappointment to teachers with "effective" or better ratings.
"We are pursuing something that says clearly, this is how we define someone who is doing the job well, and what entitles you to another year's contract," USEP negotiator Val Smith explained. "Certainly we're not financially competing with our surrounding districts. ... It makes sense to find ways to entice annual contract teachers to stick it out with us."
As it stands, some teachers with positive evaluations did not get reappointed this year, often over the principal's decision they did not "fit" the school, Smith said. Many then found it difficult to get interviews with other schools, she said, and some wound up moving to nearby districts and getting more pay.
"I just can't help but think that there's got to be a better way," she said.
Superintendent Kurt Browning said the list of nonreappointed teachers might have been longer, had the district office not insisted that principals have more than a single complaint about a teacher. Those that did not keep their jobs had multiple chances to improve their areas of concern, he said, but did not.
Each case was documented, Browning added.
But once those teachers were not renewed, he continued, it made sense to make it tougher for them to get another post within the district.
"Why would I want that teacher being hired at another school in the Pasco district?" he said. "If a principal wants to hire a non-reappointed teacher, at a minimum they have to call the principal at the school the teacher came from and have a discussion."
If the principal still wants to move forward, the area superintendent and deputy superintendent must review and approve the request.
District officials have said they do not consider the union's proposal legal under state statute, and suggested that strong teachers should have nothing to worry about. Negotiations continue this week.