Monday, April 23, 2018
Education

Pasco schools consider cutting early retirement benefit

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County School District officials revealed their plans for a $1.5 million budget cut on Wednesday, almost 24 hours after the School Board preliminarily approved the spending plan with the reduction listed as "Item 2."

The proposal calls for the district to end a monthly payment it had given to employees who retired early but did not meet state requirements for full retirement benefits. Any employee not in the program by Oct. 1 would not be permitted to enter.

Officials estimate the district would save about $1.5 million in the current fiscal year.

"In these times when we're trying to do everything we can for our employees, we have to do what's feasible and, frankly, where we get the biggest bang for our buck," interim employee relations director Tom Neesham said when introducing the proposal during contract negotiations with noninstructional staff. "Looking at this annuity, it's time to put that to bed."

Ed Ronda, lead negotiator for the United School Employees of Pasco, said the item did not come as a total surprise. But it did raise concerns.

"We have employees that have worked 20, 25 years and have come to this point in their life, and they are planning to retire with this benefit," Ronda said. "I know individuals right now that have submitted for retirement under this," but not until November.

He asked why the board was pushing for the Oct. 1 implementation date.

No matter what date the board chose, Neesham said, someone would be affected. But without the cut, he said, the budget won't be balanced unless other reductions are found.

Board members said they knew about this proposal, as they discussed it as one of many options during closed-door sessions with staff.

Superintendent Kurt Browning pointedly refused to reveal it during the board's budget hearing on Tuesday, though, saying it would need to come out through negotiations.

Board member Joanne Hurley said that made for an "awkward" public hearing, because of transparency concerns. She said she was glad the recommendation, which she supported, had come out publicly before the final budget hearing in September.

An "Item 1," with a price tag of $1 million, remains in the offing for a future bargaining session.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. Visit the Gradebook for more education news, tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Comments
Hillsborough: No way we can afford teacher raises this year

Hillsborough: No way we can afford teacher raises this year

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District is in bad financial shape and its reputation for sound management is perhaps undeserved, the district’s own fiscal team testified Monday in a hearing concerning teacher salaries.The district "made finan...
Updated: 5 hours ago

School news for April 27

School Calendar• May 17-20: High school graduations• May 25: Last day of school for studentsBriefs• School Safety Town Hall Meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. May 2 at River Ridge Middle/High, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey and 6 to 8 p....
Published: 04/23/18
A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

The young man in a white jail jumpsuit, handcuffed and shackled, looked past the throng of reporters pointing microphones toward his face, barely opening his mouth as he answered questions."I shot through the door," he said, looking at a female repor...
Published: 04/21/18
After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

TAMPA — Confronted in late 2017 with reports of misconduct by substitute teachers hired through a contractor, Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins said he would ask tough questions and demand answers. He had his lawyer, Jeff Gibson, ...
Published: 04/21/18
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Nicole Leary and Taylor Redington stood outside St. Petersburg High School on Friday morning with parents and protesters who had gathered with bullhorns and signs. In a few minutes they would lead about 70 students on a walk to City Hall, joining oth...
Published: 04/20/18
Official: Shotgun in guitar case was used in school shooting

Official: Shotgun in guitar case was used in school shooting

FORT LAUDERDALE — A gunman who carried a shotgun in a guitar case opened fire Friday in a Florida high school, wounding one student before he was arrested on a day planned for a national classroom walkout to protest gun violence, authorities said. It...
Published: 04/20/18
Eakins: New ‘achievement zone’ would lift struggling schools

Eakins: New ‘achievement zone’ would lift struggling schools

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins is preparing to reorganize his cabinet — for the third time since 2015 — in an effort to coordinate programs at the district’s highest-needs schools.In an interview this week, Eakins descr...
Published: 04/20/18
Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

High school students from both sides of Tampa Bay will commemorate the anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings on Friday, although in very different ways. In St. Petersburg, students from several schools will gather at noon at City Hall f...
Published: 04/20/18
Hooper: A tribute to my Godby High School instructors

Hooper: A tribute to my Godby High School instructors

Every time I see an algebraic formula, Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Landreth and Mrs. McBee flash through my mind.If you say history, I say Mr. Groot and Mrs. Melton. If you say civics, I say Mrs. Jennings and Mrs. Hunt.I type using the "home keys" because Mrs....
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District, with a large and growing population of children from foreign cultures, is reducing the ranks of teachers’ aides who help them master the English language.Next year’s workforce will have about 164 fewer...
Published: 04/19/18