Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco school district plans to cancel furlough days

LAND O'LAKES — The Pasco School District's more than 9,000 employees can forget about furloughs this year.

The district administration has found a way to save $3 million without forcing everyone to take two unpaid days off. Employee relations director Kevin Shibley revealed the plan late Wednesday during negotiations with the United School Employees of Pasco school-related personnel.

He planned to make a similar proposal to the USEP teachers representatives during bargaining on Thursday.

"The superintendent was extremely committed to finding a way to offset the furlough days this year," Shibley said.

The savings would come in four key areas:

• Using fuel tax reimbursements, about $900,000. The district receives this refund on its gas taxes every year, and can afford this year to put it toward avoiding furloughs, officials said.

• Shifting some Food and Nutrition Services costs from general operations to the FNS standalone budget, $1.5 million-$2 million. This would be a one-time measure, not a source of recurring savings, officials said.

• Ending the importing of sick leave for new hires from other state agencies and districts, affecting about 2,000 sick leave hours a year.

• Reducing by one month the paid health insurance benefits employees get when they leave the district, $150,000 in premiums plus an undetermined amount of claims.

"Those four things together we believe will generate enough savings to eliminate the furlough days," Shibley said.

The latter two items would require USEP approval. Union president Lynne Webb said she did not object to either.

The sick leave proposal makes sense, Webb said, because other agencies do not pay for the days that the employees carry with them into Pasco. Most other districts also have stopped allowing workers to import sick leave, as well.

"It was a liability we did not feel was fair to the employees who have spent their entire careers here in Pasco," Webb said.

She also supported the change to health insurance for departing employees, saying the USEP had recommended this reduction in past years as an area of potentially significant savings.

Under budget constraints, the school district originally planned to impose two furlough days this year, though neither day has been scheduled. The previous year, the district also planned two furlough days, then reimbursed workers for one of the days after saving more money than expected in health insurance expenses.

The USEP has consistently opposed furloughs, contending they were not needed and that savings could be found elsewhere. School Board member Steve Luikart, who voted against the current year budget on a similar premise, said he saw the new administration's steps toward resolving financial issues as a welcome change of pace.

"I am extremely pleased at the progress the superintendent and staff are putting into this," Luikart said. "We have instructed them to do everything they possibly can for our employees. They've taken a hit six years in a row. The new superintendent and staff understand that."

He added that other "positive steps" that he considered "very impressive" are in the works for employees. He did not offer specifics, saying that the details came out in closed session and still need to be negotiated.

Webb said she was encouraged the district had walked away from its previous strategy of bargaining from the extremes. She expressed hope that more positive results might arise going forward.

"Instead of coming out at negative zero, at least we're starting from ground zero," she said. "The union isn't asking for unrealistically high amounts we know are not available, and the district isn't coming in and asking for furloughs that we know are not necessary. I am hopeful we will see different budget priorities."

The USEP did ask for "retention supplements" for school related employees, money that would count toward workers' retirement pension and not be taxed as high as one-time bonuses. It is seeking similar supplements for teachers, too. It did not seek raises.

The district did not include money for supplements in its counter proposal, where it offered to remove furloughs from consideration. Shibley said he didn't consider a pay supplement likely, at least not for the current school year.

"If the board and superintendent had additional money to give, I think they would," Shibley said. "It's a huge win that we're even able to deal with the furlough days. What I put on the table is about as far as the board and superintendent are going to be able to go for this year."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at

Pasco school district plans to cancel furlough days 02/07/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 7, 2013 8:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Yep, 2017 hurricane season really is more intense than normal


    It was only 25 days ago that Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

    A handout satellite image from Sept. 8, 2017, of, from left, Tropical Storm Katia, Hurricane Irma and Tropical Storm Jose, which would intensify into a hurricane. The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has been unusually active. There have been 13 named storms this year. Only four other seasons since 1995 have had that many by Sept. 18. [NASA/NOAA GOES Project via the New York Times]
  2. Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs could run into their nemesis


    Greg Auman finishes wrapping up the Bucs' win against the Chicago Bears and looks ahead to Sunday's game at Minnesota, where Tampa Bay could run into nemesis Case Keenum, in our latest Cannon Fodder …

    Bucs outside linebacker Lavonte David (54) sacks Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum (17) during a 2016 game. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. How to vamp out for Buffyfest in St. Petersburg

    Music & Concerts

    Who's your favorite superhero? I always answer Buffy.

    Photo illustration RON BORRESEN, Photo by Warner Brothers, Photo by SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
Members of the Florida Bjorkestra rehearse, Monday, 3/13/17, at the Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg for their upcoming concert. In the foreground is percussionist Joe Coyle.

Sarah Michelle Gellar
  4. The Mill restaurants offering half off when customers donate items for hurricane relief


    The Mill restaurant in St. Petersburg and its newly-opened location in Brandon are collecting donations to help residents of the Florida Keys who've been affected by Hurricane Irma.

    The dining room at The Mill in St. Petersburg photographed in 2015.
  5. Navy removes Jacksonville hospital workers who called babies 'mini satans' (w/video)


    JACKSONVILLE — A Navy hospital in Florida has removed some employees from patient care after Snapchat photos showed a nurse giving the middle finger to a newborn with a caption that said, "How I currently feel about these mini Satans."

    A Navy hospital in Florida has removed some employees from patient care after Snapchat photos showed a nurse giving the middle finger to a newborn with a caption that said, "How I currently feel about these mini Satans." [Photo from video]