Thursday, June 21, 2018
Education

Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Hillsborough Countyís public school teachers are horn-honking, voice-raising, sign-waving, foot-stomping mad, and I canít blame them. They are paying for a problem they didnít create.

About one-third of the workforce was expecting to receive a $4,000 raise that had been promised, but after some dithering and harrumphing from top district officials, teachers learned the other night they might only get $92 instead.

Merry Christmas, yíall.

They already feel disrespected by lawmakers, officials and generally by people with fancy titles. This didnít help.

Teachers responded with a noisy protest outside the School Board building, described by Tampa Bay Times education reporter Marlene Sokol a "carnival-like affair that included a hamburger stand and dozens of children."

The good news is, teachers can buy a lot of hamburgers with that extra 92 bucks.

I did a little net-surfing to see what else teachers can afford if they accept this offer (which I wouldnít if I was in their shoes).

I saw a Kuerig coffee maker advertised for $92 on Amazon, although teachers should probably rule that out since they also would need those little coffee packs. Thatís a budget-buster.

There was a heart-rate sensor marked down to $71 from the original $89. A teacher might find that handy the next time they look at their pay stub.

Itís not going out on a thin limb to say this situation will not end well. Fingers are already being pointed in both directions and both sides are dug in to positions that are oceans apart.

The board would have been smarter to stick to its "we have no money, so you get no raise" posture instead of offering a $1.8 million bonus pool that immediately was spun by the union as a slap in the face.

The board never said how the pool had to be divided ó remember, only one-third of teachers were in line for the $4,000 raise.

But the union made its point by taking the boardís offer and making it look as Scrooge-like as possible. It divided the figure among all 20,000 district employees, not just those losing out on the pay bump.

Hence, the $92 figure.

All board members can do is point to the districtís dwindling cash reserve and the dire consequences that will follow if it gets worse.

"Our superintendent has had to make some extremely difficult decisions," employee relations manager Mark West said.

West has been tasked with delivering the bad news to teachers about the pay raise. In the interest of transparency, his annual salary is $118,437.

Letís accept a few basic truths about whatís happening, starting with the fact the union should be screaming bloody murder about what is happening.

The union represents teachers, and its leaders should be holding the boardís collective tootsies to the firepit over the promise it made.

Board members can talk until their tongues melt about the financial crisis that has trashed district finances, and the unionís response should be that a promise is a promise.

The problem with that, though, is the board can come back and say okay fine, what if we lay off a bunch of teachers so we can make the numbers work?

Or maybe members say they wonít fix the air conditioning that always breaks down all over the district. Or they wonít repair leaky roofs. Then they could add, if you think itís bad now, wait Ďtil those lovely folks in Tallahassee tell us to manage our budget better instead of asking for more money.

All these things are true, and there is no easy answer.

Teachers are right to feel they are being forced to pay for district mismanagement that goes back to the MaryEllen Elia era.

Hereís something no one can hide from, though. How will they ever believe anything the board tells them in the future?

Comments
Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE ó With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Boardís close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano ó and days before her time as head of the district runs out ó school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Published: 06/20/18
Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

BROOKSVILLE ó As schools and districts across the state await their 2018 grades from the Florida Department of Education, the standardized test scores that factor into those ratings and were dropped last week show slight gains in Hernando County.The ...
Published: 06/20/18
Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

An early analysis of the Pasco County School Districtís 2018-2019 budget projects a deficit of more than a million dollars, with more than half of that coming from a shortfall in funding new school safety requirements.Costs to hire and train 53 new s...
Published: 06/20/18
New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

ST. PETERSBURG ó Originally pitched as a nine- or 10-story, 550-bed dorm for the overcrowded University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, USFís latest residence hall project will likely look much different by the time itís done.For starters, it...
Published: 06/20/18
Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Am I missing something in the — pardon the expression — brouhaha over the renaming of the University of South Florida Sun Dome to the Yuengling Center? In trading a college arena’s longtime name for that of a big-name beer brewed ne...
Published: 06/20/18

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA ó Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editorís note: Ethan Hooper wrote todayís column to give Ernest Hooper Fatherís Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18
School board races attract new faces

School board races attract new faces

TAMPA ó When long-time Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes resigned this month from the board to run for the State House of Representatives, the decision affected more than just her seat in west Hillsboroughís District 1.It also coul...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/17/18
Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

TAMPA ó Money that the Hillsborough County School District needs to build schools and replace air conditioners might be farther from reach, thanks to a new state law and a bureaucratic process required before the voters can decide on a tax referendum...
Published: 06/14/18