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Pasco schools propose one-time bonus to school employees

LAND O'LAKES — The nearly 900 Pasco school district employees who don't get to negotiate their terms of employment stand to get the same general deal that the district's teachers cut during contract talks.

Superintendent Heather Fiorentino is recommending that all 331 administrators and 556 non-negotiating, non-instructional staff get a one-time bonus based on years of service to the district. Unlike the teachers' checks, though, these will not contribute to the employees' pension fund or count toward their retirement.

The amount to cover the bonuses is $330,584 for administrators and $410,895 for the non-bargaining, non-instructional staff.

Only Fiorentino and the School Board members will not get additional funds. Lawmakers imposed a 2 percent pay cut on all elected superintendents, and passed a law stating that board members can not earn more than a first-year teacher in their district.

Jim Ciadella, lead negotiator for Pasco teachers, called the proposed bonus package fair.

"Those people work as well," Ciadella said. "They deserve compensation."

He said the United School Employees of Pasco has come to expect that the contract terms it strikes with the district will fall in line with what the district offers employees who aren't represented in collective bargaining.

If the offers are not consistent, the USEP reserves the right to ask for a reconsideration of the settlement.

School Board members said they want to treat all employees as equitably as possible. The district's initial offer to the USEP was to give every employee the same amount of money, regardless of job title or years with the district.

USEP representatives rejected that idea, saying the bonuses should be differentiated upon type of work and longevity with the system. Now the proposal calls for teacher supplements ranging from $550 to $850, based on years of service.

"If it was uniform (bonuses) across the board, I don't know that I would have a problem with it," chairman Frank Parker said, noting that the nonunion workers stand to get slightly less than the USEP members because their bonus does not include retirement benefits.

Board member Kathryn Starkey said that, with no raises, all employees deserve some additional spending money: "Everyone is hurting financially."

Still, she raised a concern that the district might have been better off freezing pay.

"The most fiscally responsible thing would be nobody gets anything, because I think we're going to be in an even worse situation next year," Starkey said, mentioning that federal stimulus money will run out in a year and the state is projecting its deficit to grow.

"If people are able, they should take this bonus and set it aside and not spend it," Starkey said. "Unfortunately, most people are not in a position to do that."

USEP members have not yet ratified their contract agreement. They are scheduled to vote Nov. 19.

The School Board is set to consider the contract Tuesday, the same day it plans to set the benefits and compensation package for nonunion employees.

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

Pasco schools propose one-time bonus to school employees 11/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 8:28pm]
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