Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco schools union leader suggests reassigning teachers

LAND O'LAKES — The leader of the school employees' union offered a big idea Thursday to help the district with its budget woes:

Put more teachers back in the classroom.

The Pasco County School District has about 300 certified teachers who are not assigned to instruct students in classrooms. They provide staff training or handle administrative duties, some of which are required by state and federal laws, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

But Lynne Webb, the president of the United School Employees of Pasco, said the district should fully evaluate each job to determine whether some of those teachers are better used in the classroom.

"A great many of those could be converted," Webb told the district's staff budget committee, which she co-chairs along with superintendent Heather Fiorentino.

The Pasco school district is grappling with ways to address its projected $25.6 million shortfall for the upcoming year. One big-ticket item is a $4 million fine for failing to comply with class-size requirements. The district can reduce the fine to $1 million, but only if it meets the class-size mandate in October.

That means more teachers.

The School Board's plan calls for hiring 126 new classroom teachers, at a cost of about $6.4 million.

"We believe the class-size reduction could be handled almost entirely internally through transfers and reallocations of positions," Webb told the staff budget committee on Thursday.

Fiorentino said she would have her staff look at the positions to see what the district can legally do.

Continuing along the same path, Webb then recommended that the district's secondary school principals begin surveying their teachers to see who might be willing to voluntarily teach a sixth period each day. Doing so would eliminate their planning period, but pay a stipend equal to one-fifth of their salary.

School Board members in the past have talked about trying to negotiate a contract to have middle and high school teachers instruct six periods a day, as a way to save an estimated $12 million.

Webb has rejected the idea in the past, and continued to turn up her nose at the thought until every other potential cost saving is either put in place or eliminated as not viable. But getting teachers who are willing to volunteer their time should be a priority as schools plan, she said, so that principals might not have to hire additional people.

Wiregrass Ranch High principal Ray Bonti, who sits on the budget committee, said he already surveys his teachers at the end of each school year to see who might want a sixth period. He said he has about 25 on the list now.

Fiorentino said she would make sure all principals check with their staffs as early as practical, to make sure the district is not hiring unnecessarily.

Other ideas the committee discussed included energy savings by putting motion sensors on school lighting systems and transportation savings by further consolidating bus routes. Committee members also looked at possible revenue generating ideas, such as selling ads on the district website and on school display signs, and fundraising with concerts and district memorabilia.

Gary Allen, a River Ridge High teacher, cautioned against creating initiatives that either challenge schools in their fundraising efforts or make residents feel like they're being squeezed.

"We still have to serve the community and not have them think we're just trying to get in their pockets," Allen said. "There's a fine line between what's appropriate and what's not."

Fiorentino added that many of the revenue enhancement ideas would generate small amounts that would not make much of a dent in the district's multimillion-dollar anticipated deficit.

Still, she said, "There's no idea that is wrong. If you take a bunch of nickels and dimes, they add up."

She said staff would vet these and other ideas to see if they're legal and possible, and report back when the committee reconvenes.

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

Pasco schools union leader suggests reassigning teachers 05/03/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 3, 2012 8:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. North Korean missile launch may be testing rivals, not technology

    World

    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's latest missile test Monday may have less to do with perfecting its weapons technology than with showing U.S. and South Korean forces in the region that it can strike them at will.

    A woman watches a TV screen showing a file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday,. North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that landed in Japan's maritime economic zone Monday, officials said, the latest in a string of test launches as the North seeks to build nuclear-tipped ICBMs that can reach the U.S. mainland. [AP Photo/Lee Jin-man]
  2. PolitiFact: Fact-checking Samantha Bee on Florida felonies

    State Roundup

    Comedian Samantha Bee traveled to Florida, where she says "retirees and democracy go to die," to shed light on how the state makes it difficult for felons to regain the right to vote.

    Samantha Bee hosts Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS. Bee portrayed some of Florida’s felonies as not so serious on her show.
  3. For some, Memorial Day comes around more than just once a year

    Military

    ST. PETERSBURG — It is shortly before nine on a Friday morning, and the heat is already approaching unbearable levels at Bay Pines National Cemetery.

    Iles carefully digs up the St. Augustine grass so that it will continue to grow when it is placed back on the gravesite. He tries not to disturb the root base.
  4. State budget uncertainty has school districts 'very concerned'

    K12

    While waiting for Gov. Rick Scott to approve or veto the Legislature's education budget, the people in charge of school district checkbooks are trying hard to find a bottom line.

    It has not been easy.

    The unsettled nature of Florida’s education budget has left school districts with questions about how they will make ends meet next year. [iStockphoto.com]
  5. Ernest Hooper: Removing Confederate symbols doesn't eliminate persistent mindset

    Human Interest

    The debate has begun about removing a Confederate statue from outside the Hillsborough County Courthouse, and its removal is long overdue.

    Robert E. Lee Elementary, 305 E. Columbus Drive in Tampa, originally opened its doors in the early 1910s as the Michigan Avenue Grammar School. [Times file]