Friday, August 17, 2018
Education

Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

TAMPA — A months-long conflict over planned pay raises has moved to a new phase with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association declaring a bargaining impasse with the public school district.

The two sides, which began negotiations in late spring, have not been able to agree on a pay package for the current school year that affects 20,000 employees, most of them teachers.

The union wants about a third of its teachers to advance along a schedule that would raise their salaries by $4,000.

The district says it cannot afford this step, which would add between $15 million and $17 million to yearly payroll costs, and instead offered a total bonus package of $1.8 million.

THE GRADEBOOK: All education, all the time

The district also wants to renegotiate the pay plan, which was enacted in 2013. The plan, which came about during ambitious teaching reforms in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, freezes pay for three years and then increases it in the fourth. Whether a teacher is due for the raise depends on when he or she entered the workforce.

The district says it is under pressure from the investment community to protect its reserves, and must hold the line on recurring expenses such as payroll. The union says money exists for the teacher raises, but the district is choosing to spend it elsewhere.

Both sides stressed Friday that negotiations can and will continue despite the new impasse status.

"We recognize this has been a challenging time during our bargaining sessions," said a statement from the district, delivered by spokeswoman Tanya Arja. "Union representatives have told us that this is about more than money and we have taken that seriously."

The statement continued: "We have already begun meeting and working with teachers through the union to address their concerns. That collaboration will not stop. We will continue to work with the union in an effort to arrive at an overall agreement."

Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, executive director of the union, said it has been 25 years since an impasse was called in the Hillsborough school system. Next steps, which are likely to happen after the winter holidays, include selecting a special magistrate who will hold a hearing.

"They’re claiming they have no money, and they’re going to have to prove that," Baxter-Jenkins said. "We will have financial experts who have some alternate readings on that."

Most of the employees represented by the union are teachers, but the bargaining unit also includes clerical workers and teachers’ aides.

Slightly more than half are dues-paying members, but all are covered by the union contract. Under Florida law, they cannot strike.

EDUCATION MATTERS: Keep track of news and trends that affect you. Visit the Times education page.

News of the impasse caps nearly two months of teacher rallies, student walk-outs and a week-long "work-to-contract" action intended to show parents how much of a teacher’s work takes place after hours.

The union is asking its members to resume the cutbacks, but in a modified fashion, as many teachers are reluctant to skimp on activities that benefit their students.

"Where you can, work your contract," Baxter-Jenkins said. "Where you don’t feel comfortable, then be hashtagging (in other words, posting to social media) all you are doing beyond the contract."

Union leaders also are asking teachers to attend the next School Board meeting on Jan. 23 in large numbers, as they did for the last two meetings.

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected] Follow @marlenesokol

Comments
A USF milestone: Three new dorms, more than 6,300 students living on campus

A USF milestone: Three new dorms, more than 6,300 students living on campus

TAMPA — The paint on Pinnacle Hall’s white-and-gold walls still smelled fresh as Lilly Myskey led a parade of parents and bins and bags down the hall toward her new room at the University of South Florida. "Speaking of the building being brand-new, L...
Published: 08/17/18
Florida girl denied school lunch because she was 15 cents short, mother says

Florida girl denied school lunch because she was 15 cents short, mother says

A sophomore at University High School in Volusia County was denied lunch on her first day of school Tuesday because she owed 15 cents, according to WKMG in Orlando.The girl’s mother, Kimberly Aiken, told WKMG a cashier in the school’s lunchroom threw...
Published: 08/16/18
Brooksville pastor challenges longtime principal trying for reelection to Hernando’s District 5 School Board seat

Brooksville pastor challenges longtime principal trying for reelection to Hernando’s District 5 School Board seat

Hernando County School Board District 5 incumbent Susan Duval seconded the motion to fire superintendent Lori Romano on June 12. And that’s why Joe Santerelli said he filed to run against her about a week later.A week after that, the local pastor spo...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Candidates for Hernando’s District 3 School Board seat talk mental health, technical education

Candidates for Hernando’s District 3 School Board seat talk mental health, technical education

As Hernando County School Board member Beth Narverud makes her run for a spot on the County Commission, three hopefuls are running to fill her District 3 seat.One is Jimmy Lodato, a Tampa native and 19-year Hernando resident. Retired from a career in...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Incumbent chairman and newcomer battle for Hernando’s District 1 School Board seat

Incumbent chairman and newcomer battle for Hernando’s District 1 School Board seat

Mark Johnson was elected to the Hernando County School Board in 2014. He said his successful track record, combined with local business savvy, make him the clear choice over Catherine "Kay" Hatch for the District 1 seat."It’s not just an opportunity ...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Corbett Prep marks 50th year with compassionate stories, family love

Corbett Prep marks 50th year with compassionate stories, family love

TAMPA — Sammi Borosh sat Tuesday afternoon in one of those tiny chairs for kindergartners and looked across the table at four of her former teachers — and her eyes misted.Borosh said she loved those four ladies and she loved the school where they tau...
Published: 08/15/18
For this Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, start of school is ‘beginning of the end’

For this Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, start of school is ‘beginning of the end’

Barbara Ojago saw her grandson’s first day back at school as the beginning of the end.Her grandson, Emea, will finish his senior year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland. But Emea returns to a school forever changed by a former student he pe...
Published: 08/15/18
Pinellas plans new arts and gifted magnet schools in north county

Pinellas plans new arts and gifted magnet schools in north county

Next school year, if all goes according to plan, two new programs will expand the slate of options for Pinellas County elementary students — a conservatory for the arts in Clearwater and a gifted center in Palm Harbor.The programs, which will go befo...
Published: 08/15/18
Report card on ousted Hernando schools superintendent shows little change from last year

Report card on ousted Hernando schools superintendent shows little change from last year

BROOKSVILLE — Two months after firing superintendent Lori Romano, the Hernando County School Board on Tuesday reviewed results of a second district-wide survey to evaluate her performance, finding that little changed from last year.Romano’s overall a...
Published: 08/15/18

Pasco schools don’t plan to move teachers over state scores

Florida school districts recently received their teachers’ state "value-added" scores, and some scrambled to reassign those who got poor marks out of schools in turnaround status.But Pasco County wasn’t one of them, despite state rules relating to pe...
Published: 08/15/18