Sunday, May 20, 2018
Education

Pasco school district, union reach deal over teacher evaluations

LAND O'LAKES — Eight months into the school year, Pasco County's schoolteachers still don't have a 2011-12 contract agreement.

But they took a step closer to a final agreement late Thursday.

Representatives for the United School Employees of Pasco and the school district administration came to terms on how to implement new teacher evaluations as required under the 2011 "Student Success Act," more commonly known as Senate Bill 736.

"That was the big issue," union lead negotiator Jim Ciadella said. "We spent four to six months on 'how do we evaluate teachers?'"

A few more issues remain before the sides will be ready to ask for ratification.

Settling on financial terms came relatively easily, by contrast, as union officials faced the reality that the administration was not going to budge on unchanged salaries. The sides agreed to a plan that also had the district continuing to fully cover employee health benefits, with a compromise on furloughs, back in August.

Concerns over the details of implementing SB 736 have continued since then, mainly how to count student performance for teachers who do not teach Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test courses.

On Thursday, after some back and forth on proposals, the sides arrived at a tentative deal. The highlights include:

• Teachers are not required to demonstrate all 41 teaching strategies on the district evaluation model in a single observed instructional period.

• Administrators are expected to recuse themselves from evaluating teachers with whom they have a clear conflict of interest, such as having their own child assigned to that teacher.

• Teachers with students not assessed by the FCAT will be evaluated based on schoolwide reading and math value-added learning gains.

• In the event of layoffs, reductions will be based first on teachers' 2010-11 evaluations.

There had been much hand-wringing over the layoff component because evaluations must now include test results and FCAT scores are not expected to be complete before the district must make employment decisions. District officials have said they hope not to use this section, as they intend to limit layoffs this year.

Teachers who do not teach FCAT courses still might raise complaints that they will be rated based on students they have never taught.

Contract ratification for the county's largest employer is not yet imminent.

"Both the instructional and non-instructional teams have an item or two left to resolve," district employee relations director Kevin Shibley said. "I anticipate needing a final meeting with both teams present to sign off on those remaining items."

A key sticking point remains the district's implementation of furlough days.

The way things are set up now, Ciadella said, employees have only one day to wrap up the school year after students leave because of the furlough and vacation schedule.

He said the union wants to find ways to streamline the end-of-year processes — such as exams, grading and classroom cleanup — to ensure that the work gets done and employees are not forced to work unpaid hours.

The district recently swapped employees' second furlough day with the first day of spring break, a paid holiday, to try to avoid some of the expected problems.

"We have some serious concerns ... that may give us pause in terms of settling the entire contract," Ciadella said. "Right now we don't have a clear idea of how the district wants to work with us to solve those things."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected], (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Comments
At vigil, another school mourns: ‘It is hope in the face of tragedy that brings us together today.’

At vigil, another school mourns: ‘It is hope in the face of tragedy that brings us together today.’

SANTA FE, Texas - They gathered here by the dozens Friday evening, wearing their school colors, T-shirts that said "Texas Tough," while huddling under the shade of a gaggle of pine trees, not 11 hours after the first shots were fired.They came to pra...
Published: 05/19/18
‘I always felt it would eventually happen here’: A Santa Fe High School survivor’s reaction to the shooting

‘I always felt it would eventually happen here’: A Santa Fe High School survivor’s reaction to the shooting

Paige Curry tried to keep calm Friday morning as a gunman tore through her Santa Fe High School, eventually killing 10 people and injuring another 10. The 17-year-old watched as a girl nearby panicked. Curry, herself terrified, considered running out...
Published: 05/19/18
Class of 2018: Meet the valedictorians and salutatorians for Pinellas private high schools

Class of 2018: Meet the valedictorians and salutatorians for Pinellas private high schools

Before they could get away, we asked the top graduates at Pinellas County’s private schools to write a Twitter-length paragraph about what’s on their mind. We suggested they reflect on the past or the future, or talk about the people who helped them ...
Published: 05/18/18
Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

TAMPA — For those who fear there is no hope, or help, or heart left in this world, there is the story of Anita Morgan.There are any number of life-wrenching places to begin …In the middle of the night, in the back of a police car, cruising over the b...
Published: 05/18/18
Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

TAMPA — For those who fear there is no hope, or help, or heart left in this world, there is the story of Anita Morgan.There are any number of life-wrenching places to begin …In the middle of the night, in the back of a police car, cruising over the b...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Florida teacher accused of drowning raccoons in class placed on leave

Florida teacher accused of drowning raccoons in class placed on leave

A Florida teacher was placed on administrative leave after school officials were told that he had students help him drown wild raccoons during class.A 14-second video published by CBS affiliate WKMG showed a group of students filling a tub of water u...
Published: 05/17/18
The US spends less on children than almost any other developed nation

The US spends less on children than almost any other developed nation

The federal government now spends less than it did about 30 years ago on some of the country’s poorest children, the result of cuts to federal welfare programs, according to a new research paper.In 1990, the government spent about $8,700 on every chi...
Published: 05/17/18
Two gifts on graduation day: white Crocs, and a lesson that ‘it can’t hurt to ask’

Two gifts on graduation day: white Crocs, and a lesson that ‘it can’t hurt to ask’

ST. PETERSBURG — Sarah Agee and her friends never pictured themselves wearing Crocs to their graduation. But the foam shoes were comfortable, offered better footing than heels, and now the Seminole High seniors had a story to tell.It all started a li...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Romano: Instead of securing schools, lawmakers saved themselves

Romano: Instead of securing schools, lawmakers saved themselves

I said it two months ago, and it’s only become more obvious since then:The bipartisan school safety proposal passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor had more to do with protecting the rear ends of politicians than the lives of students.I...
Published: 05/16/18
High school graduations begin today across Tampa Bay

High school graduations begin today across Tampa Bay

Put on your gowns. Get in line. Cue Pomp and Circumstance .Tampa Bay’s high school graduation season begins in earnest today, with ceremonies for four schools planned at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Lakewood High will go first at 8:30 a.m., fol...
Published: 05/16/18