Superintendent tells Pasco school employees to expect 3.5 percent raises, including benefits
With the budget tentatively approved, Pasco County school district and employee representatives are expecting to resume contract negotiations Thursday at noon, with finances as the hot topic.
Superintendent Kurt Browning emailed all district workers late Tuesday to let them know how much to expect in the board's raise proposal. It's not 3 percent, as initially hoped by many, unless you're willing to include increased benefits coverage in the mix.
As we have reported, the board scaled back its anticipated salary offer in order to keep the 2016-17 budget balanced. Still, the district intends to present a 3.5 percent package, broken out as follows:
-$11.1 million for salary increases, which equates to a roughly 2.65 percent average salary increase for all employee,
- $2.5 million increase in health insurance benefits, which equates to another .6 percent increase in average overall compensation, and
- $900,000 in increased Florida Retirement System contributions for all employees, which equates to .26 percent in average overall compensation.
"Negotiations with USEP are ongoing, so these figures are not final," Browning stated in his email. "Rest assured that the district is making every effort to conclude negotiations quickly so that we can provide clarity to employees about their compensation. Our desire is to provide the best compensation possible given the current economic climate."
USEP president Kenny Blankenship thanked the superintendent and board for keeping the salaries as a priority. However, he added during comments to the board, "there are other issues as important as that" not receiving attention at the bargaining table. He mentioned as an example the union's call for a yearly job guarantee to all teachers on annual contracts who are rated "effective" or "highly effective" -- something the district has refused to budge on.
"Nonrenewal of effective and highly effective teachers has taken place," he said. "We want effective and highly effective teachers with experience in our classrooms."
District employees "deserve the respect that you don't give them," Blankenship said.
Most of them return to work on Monday. Their old contract remains in effect until new terms are ratified.
UPDATE: Blankenship informed the Gradebook that the tentatively scheduled negotiations will not take place on Thursday. He said the union has told the district it will not be ready to return to the table until after school begins.