Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Education

Pasco schools pay raise proposal shrinks, other expenses increase

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County School District employees appear unlikely to get 2 percent pay raises this year, despite initial administration plans to increase salaries by that much.

"We started with $7.2 million" in the budget for raises, chief finance director Olga Swinson told contract negotiating teams Tuesday. "It put us into deficit."

After putting money into all other required programs it must pay for, Swinson said, the district has only $3.07 million available for pay hikes. That's about 1 percent.

She explained that the district made its original plan before it received news that its health insurance premiums would rise about 3.5 percent, or $1.5 million.

Other increasing costs included $7.9 million for new positions, $2.4 million for new charter schools, and $2.8 million for professional development and curriculum mandates.

With only $17 million in new funds, Swinson said, the district could do only so much. She noted that the superintendent and department directors spent three days cutting their budget proposals in other ways to make income and spending plans match.

"That's not good news," United School Employees of Pasco lead negotiator Jim Ciadella said after the finance presentation.

"Nobody is happy about it," employee relations director Betsy Kuhn said in agreement. "But we have to acknowledge the reality of the situation."

The district also formally proposed banning all tobacco product use at all school properties and in school district vehicles, effective Aug. 11. Currently, campuses built before 1996 may permit smoking. The union did not immediately agree and raised doubts about the policy as a priority.

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