Monday, June 18, 2018
Education

Battle to reduce number of out-of-field teachers continues

It's a push-pull situation for schools each year. They want to fill classrooms with permanent teachers, not substitutes, yet it can often be difficult to find educators to fill the specific needs.

That can result in schools hiring highly qualified instructors who might not be certified to teach the subjects to which they are assigned. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the areas with the most out-of-field teachers usually coincide with the state's annual list of critical shortage areas.

The Pasco County School District offers no exception.

Its list of out-of-field teachers, which appeared on the School Board's agenda for Tuesday, shows 155 of the district's approximately 5,000 teachers teaching courses for which they are still pursuing certification. That does not include those who do not have required English for Speakers of Other Languages endorsements.

Of the 155 teachers, nearly one in five — 17 percent— are for special education, with another 12 percent teaching gifted courses. The subjects spanned a broad spectrum, including math, Spanish, biology and physical education.

The district has changed its hiring practices, leading to a lower level of vacancies than in the past. It currently lists fewer than 50 full-time teaching posts. But the effort is ongoing, as the goal remains to fill every classroom with a full-time certified teacher.

PAY RAISES: In a year where no money was thought to be coming for pay raises, Pasco County schools superintendent Kurt Browning recently announced that $3.3 million could be cobbled together for salary additions.

But how exactly would that money, which has been equated to raises of about 1 percent, be spread around? That remains subject to contract negotiations.

Browning said he wanted to take into account the bonuses that teachers will get from the state through HB 7069 when considering the issue. Although they don't count toward state pensions, the one-time payments will boost teachers' paychecks for the year.

Other staff employees were not similarly recognized by lawmakers in HB 7069, Browning observed.

"I want to make sure all district staff see some sort of raise," he said.

Leaders of the United School Employees of Pasco have advocated for more than a year to use carryover funds, which materialize fairly regularly each year, to bolster employee pay.

"It looks like some of that money is now available," USEP operations director Jim Ciadella said.

Ciadella said he anticipated the discussions on how to divvy up the funds "will be the interesting part of the negotiations." He said he hopes the sides can reach an agreement by the end of October, so they can move on to other issues.

A year ago, Browning and the School Board created hard feelings by authorizing pay hikes for non-bargaining workers while teachers and school-related personnel covered by collective bargaining hit an impasse. They did not arrive at a finished agreement until spring.

RECOGNITION FUNDS: About half of Pasco County schools have received word that they will be getting $100 per student from the state in recognition of their students' 2016-17 test results.

Forty-three district schools, six charter schools and the county's virtual school franchise will get the funds, totaling $3.63 million.

The schools' staffs and advisory committees, which include parents, must create plans for the money. It can go toward employee bonuses, school equipment and materials, and temporary staffing.

If the schools do not adopt a plan by Feb. 1, state law requires that all of the money be divided among current-year teachers.

The program to reward campuses with high scores or strong gains was devised during the Jeb Bush era. It has often proven controversial at both the school level — where competing ideas have led to sometimes heated disputes — and the state level, where some education groups have pushed to insert the money into general education spending rather than as a special pot for certain schools.

In the majority of cases, schools end up distributing the bulk of the money among all staffers, not just teachers, as bonuses. They often use a smaller portion for supplies.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at (813) 909-4614 or [email protected] Follow @jeffsolochek.

Comments
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s 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 — 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 Hillsborough’s 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 — 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
University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

The University of Chicago will no longer require ACT or SAT scores from U.S. students, sending a jolt through elite institutions of higher education as it becomes the first top-10 research university to join the test-optional movement.Numerous school...
Published: 06/14/18
Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano presented to the School Board Tuesday nearly $53 million worth of budget priorities, asking them to choose which will be funded in the upcoming school year.The board voted 3-2 later Tue...
Published: 06/13/18
UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

The University of Tampa’s MFA program will host the June 2018 Residency Visiting Writers Lectores Series that runs from now until June 21 on the ninth floor of the Vaughn Center, 401 W Kennedy Blvd. Each reading will be held at 7:30 p.m.Each January ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano will step down at the end of this month following a 3-2 vote by the School Board to terminate its contract with her amid increasing concerns about her ability to lead.Romano has suffere...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18
Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

NEW PORT RICHEY — The dozen Fivay High school students and their administrators arrived at the Pasco County school district’s annual Together We Stand conference with a clear goal in mind.With hundreds of former Ridgewood High students arriving in th...
Published: 06/12/18
Central’s air rifle team prepares for national competition

Central’s air rifle team prepares for national competition

BROOKSVILLE — Historic Camp Perry is where it’s at. Located near Clinton, Ohio, the National Guard training facility is where the nation’s top shooters go to compete.Next week, some of Hernando County’s top shooters compete there in the Civilian Mark...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/14/18