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Pasco school employees to get first raise in six years

Kenny Blankenship, vice president of the United School Employees of Pasco, vowed six years ago that he would not cut his hair until raises return.

COLIN HACKLEY | Special to the Times (2010)

Kenny Blankenship, vice president of the United School Employees of Pasco, vowed six years ago that he would not cut his hair until raises return.

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County school employees will get their first raises in six years in November.

Everyone from the lowest-paid worker to the highest-paid administrator will see an increase, averaging about 5 percent. Teachers will be closer to 4.6 percent, administrators around 4 percent, and non-instructional staff approximately 5.6 percent.

The United School Employees of Pasco overwhelmingly supported the pay agreements in new contracts, with 96 percent of teachers and 97 percent of school-related personnel voting for their deals on Thursday.

School Board members unanimously approved the agreements Tuesday, along with raises for nonbargaining employees. The money was a combination of state funding and local revenue.

"It was timely, it was well received by all," board member Joanne Hurley said. "This hopefully will be the forerunner of things to come."

USEP vice president Kenny Blankenship praised the district for improving salaries and for rewarding loyalty by basing the raise amounts on years of service.

The district initially looked at across-the-board raises for everyone, but changed course when the teachers unit asked for "shares" tied to how many years they had gone without.

District negotiators also agreed to maintain fully paid health benefits for employees.

"It's a relief to have not only an early settlement but a good one," Blankenship said, adding that he hoped the district's new base teacher salary of $37,000 would be more competitive.

He noted that the raises won't be coming until November, after the district can process them through new its computer business software.

"I look forward to seeing you in short hair," chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong told Blankenship, who said six years ago he would not cut his hair until raises return.

"My wife does too," he said with a laugh.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at jsolochek@tampabay.com or on Twitter @jeffsolochek.

Pasco school employees to get first raise in six years 10/01/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 7:22pm]
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