Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Union spars with Pasco school district over furloughs

LAND O'LAKES — The Pasco County School Board is counting on employee furloughs to balance its budget this year.

Their employees' union has other ideas, though.

United School Employees of Pasco president Lynne Webb on Wednesday rejected the district's proposal to give unpaid leaves of absence to every district worker as a way to save nearly $6 million.

Facing a $54 million revenue shortfall, the district has already has laid off 470 employees, including temporary service contract workers, to cut spending by more than $27 million. (Some of those employees have been rehired to fill other vacancies.) It also has reallocated money from its capital accounts, and tapped into one-time federal funds, to cover much of the difference.

The furloughs were considered the final piece of the puzzle. Full-year employees would get four unpaid days, while others would get three.

"We've done as many reductions as we can to save as many positions as we can," district negotiator Bryan Jack told the USEP's school-related personnel bargaining team on Wednesday. "This is one of the only ways that we can come up with that money."

Webb said she was not convinced that the district needed to cut as much spending as officials said they do.

She noted that the district has saved nearly $600,000 in operating funds through an early retirement offer. Insurance costs are projected to come in thousands below the amount budgeted, she added. And the budget carryover from 2010-11 looks to be about $750,000, she continued.

"For the board to come back and propose exactly what they have budgeted and not take into account all these areas where we worked hard to find savings … we think that needs to be taken more into consideration," Webb said. "We will not be accepting this proposal as it is."

She asked for time to meet with her team to discuss a possible counterproposal.

After 20 minutes, Webb returned to say that the USEP had no immediate response. The group preferred to wait until the teachers' negotiating team gets its furlough offer, which Jack said would be essentially the same, and then have a joint bargaining session.

Webb did say she was pleased that, at the very least, the board's offer provided for discussions about which days would be selected for the furloughs. She asked if Jack had any idea which ones were on the table.

He asked Webb her thoughts about turning a paid holiday into an unpaid one. The district still has not responded to the USEP's request to guarantee the past Independence Day as a paid holiday.

Webb flatly rejected that concept, saying that taking away a holiday is a pay cut. A furlough should be a regular work day that isn't worked and isn't paid, she said.

Then she noted that many employee contracts don't have much wiggle room for days off. She suggested that one of the furlough days, if agreed upon, might have to be a class day.

That would shut down the system. But it also would make clear to families exactly how big the district's financial crisis has become, Webb added.

"This district has done a great job shielding the parents and students over the years," she said. "I think we're at a point where it's unavoidable."

The sides closed after agreeing to return to the table for a joint session on furloughs on Tuesday.

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

Union spars with Pasco school district over furloughs 08/03/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 8:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas licensing board loses support for staying independent

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board on Monday lost its strongest supporter for staying independent.

    State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican running for governor, said Monday that he will no longer support any legislation to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board independent. This photo was taken in August. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Rays' Blake Snell erasing memories of his poor start

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — As Blake Snell strides up the mound at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night with an 10-game unbeaten streak, doesn't the miserable start to his sophomore season, when he was winless in eight starts and got demoted to Triple-A, seem like a long time ago?

    To him, too.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) in the dugout during the fourth inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  3. St. Petersburg youth baseball concession stand vandalized

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — The early-morning phone call warned Charles Castle, president of Burg Baseball, to "expect the worst.'' The organization's concession stand had been vandalized.

     Cliff Williams, Vice President of the Burg Baseball Inc., St. Petersburg, looks at a damaged and trashed concession stand at the Lakewood Baseball Complex, home of the Burg Baseball. According to Williams someone vandalized the concession stand either Saturday or Sunday. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

  4. Tampa charter school teacher charged with firing handgun at ground


    TAMPA — A Tampa charter school teacher was arrested Sunday after she fired a gun into the ground during a dispute with her boyfriend, police said.

    Melody Patrice Bing, a teacher at the Village of Excellence Academy in Tampa, emerged from her home holding a weapon and dropped it when police confronted her at gunpoint. [Tampa Police Department]
  5. Tuesday's Nothing More concert moved from the State Theatre to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg


    Nothing More was one of the highlights of April's 98 Rockfest, a thoroughly entertaining rock outfit with a larger-than-live stage presence.

    Nothing More performed at 98 Rockfest 2017 in Tampa.