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Step pay raises for Pasco teachers, staff put on hold

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County teachers and noninstructional school employees won't be getting step raises based on their years of service today.

Citing too many unanswered questions about the district's finances, the United School Employees of Pasco agreed Tuesday to the request by school district administrators to postpone the step increases, and any discussion of them, until Aug. 10.

"We'd like to at least have some conversations before everybody goes back to school," USEP negotiator Jim Ciadella told his district counterpart during negotiations. Without action, the steps would have taken effect today, the start of the new fiscal year.

USEP president Lynne Webb said she had fielded many phone calls from workers worried that they cannot afford a second straight year without step increases, not to mention raises. But she said it did not seem prudent to the bargaining team to make proposals that might lack funding.

Officials say providing the step increases could cost $5 million to $6 million.

During the time the steps remain off the table, the USEP plans to investigate how the district will use its federal stimulus funding. It also will explore the School Board's plans regarding a possible local tax increase of 0.25 mills, which the union supports.

Kevin Shibley, the district's lead negotiator, accepted the date suggested by the USEP to resume conversations about the steps.

"We think it's even more rigid than what we put on the table," he said. "We're okay with that."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.

Step pay raises for Pasco teachers, staff put on hold 06/30/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 6:42pm]

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