For years, the adjectives most often applied to relations between the Pasco County School District and area governments were ones like "frosty" and "unfriendly."
District and county leaders fought over issues big and small, usually refusing to yield much, compromising on little.
What a difference new leadership makes.
District assistant superintendent Ray Gadd, who has served in the administrations of the past three superintendents, has sat across the table from several sets of county and city leaders. At the Pasco County School Board's most recent meeting, Gadd spent nearly 10 minutes heaping praise on the latest set of his public service compatriots.
First, he applauded Sheriff Chris Nocco for his office's efforts to stop drivers from blasting past school buses with their stop arms extended and lights flashing. Gadd said Nocco's office has worked with the district on a multitude of issues, mostly outside of the public's direct notice, to ensure school and student safety.
He then turned to the County Commission and its administrator, Michele Baker, cheering their open, transparent and easy-going manner in dealing with previously difficult issues. The district and county have collaborated on several projects, such as a joint-use development at Starkey Ranch, and Gadd said he couldn't remember such work ever going that smoothly.
The enthusiasm went beyond the county level, too.
Gadd reminded the School Board that Steve Spina had returned as Zephryhills city manager, and he talked about how well the city and district were getting along in land use discussions for the district's Hercules property, which had proven contentious prior to Spina's appointment.
Board members expressed their pleasure and said they look forward to using a new set of descriptions, such as "cooperative" and "amicable," to characterize their interactions going forward.
• • •
Employee contract negotiations for 2014-15 began June 16, and superintendent Kurt Browning said his goal is to "do everything we can to support our teachers in the classroom."
Early talks didn't tackle big issues, such as salary and insurance benefits. If there was to be a controversy, it might come over the United School Employees of Pasco's proposal to give year-round school-related personnel an unpaid day off for July 4 so they could have the full week of paid vacation at Thanksgiving.
The administration took the idea under consideration for possible agreement or a counterproposal.
If you're interested in tracking the negotiations, the district has made it easier to follow along. It has posted a page on its website with all the meeting dates, including links to all the proposals passed at the table by both sides.
You can find the information atpasco.k12.fl.us/er/contracts/.
Browning has said he hopes to have the terms settled as close as possible to when teachers return to school Aug. 11.
Have ideas for us to consider? Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4614.