Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Education

Pasco teachers union files complaint against district over planning time

LAND O'LAKES — The Pasco County teachers union again has accused School District administration of usurping planning time in violation of their contract.

This time, the United School Employees of Pasco has filed a charge with the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission. The complaint comes a year after it settled a class-action grievance over workload concerns.

"In some ways, it's actually worse now," USEP president Lynne Webb said.

She observed that the district has required teachers to attend "professional learning community," or PLC, meetings lasting more than 40 minutes weekly, and alleged that the sessions go beyond contractual agreements.

The contract states, "Weekly professional development will be designed for all teachers to meet the needs of their students. Weekly professional development may vary in length but should not be required to exceed 40 minutes."

Webb said the PLC meetings are not planning, because of the nature of the things that teachers are required to do there, such as analyze academic standards and create grading scales.

Superintendent Kurt Browning disagreed that the strategy violates the contract.

After taking office in late 2012, Browning established professional learning communities to allow teachers to collaborate. It's not training or development, he said.

"It is planning — deliberate planning time, group planning," Browning said. "Perish the thought that we would have teachers talking to each other about instruction, instructional practices and students at this time, as opposed to teaching in isolation."

Assistant superintendent Amelia Larson has portrayed this model as more than simple meetings. Sometimes, she's referred to it as a "way of life."

Larson commented about the PLC system on Twitter shortly after the union filed its complaint.

"PLCs empower schools to create the kind of thoughtful and intentional communities that both students and teachers deserve!" she wrote.

To the USEP, though, they represent another meeting that takes away from preparing instruction.

Similar issues led to the union's 2012 grievance, which Browning settled by reducing district-required tests and telling principals to scale back staff meetings. Executive director for administration Kevin Shibley reiterated the need to protect planning time in a memo regarding a March teacher planning day.

Shibley cited the contract as he reminded principals not to schedule mandatory PLCs and to avoid faculty meetings that day.

Browning said he took steps that his predecessor did not to alleviate demands on teachers. "It's better today than when I took office."

He acknowledged that the system is not perfect. But he said he had heard from teachers and principals who appreciate the new way of doing things and seen positive outcomes in the classroom.

Webb said teachers she had spoken to held a very different point of view. The loudest complaints came from elementary schools.

Talks to resolve the issues did not help. So the USEP turned to the state.

"They can't unilaterally change 30 years of operating without having to collectively bargain it," Webb said. "They say they want the union to work with them, yet when the union brings these objections, they're not willing to make accommodations."

The case could lead to a state ruling, or the sides could negotiate a deal before that happens.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Sarasota student under fire over his racist ‘promposal’

Sarasota student under fire over his racist ‘promposal’

The Sarasota County School District has begun to address the community after a Riverview High School student’s racist prom proposal over the weekend went viral, including reaching out to the Sarasota chapter of the NAACP.High school senior Noah Crowl...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Battle continues over west Pasco school rezoning

Jim Stanley does not give up without a fight.The west Pasco County parent who brought down the school district’s 2017 attendance zone revisions, leading the administration to change its procedures along the way, has filed a new challenge to the syst...
Published: 04/24/18
Crews Lake eighth-grader already capable musician

Crews Lake eighth-grader already capable musician

SPRING HILL — Rose Dodd, 2 months old, couldn’t yet grasp a rattle, but there she was years ago at hand-bell choir practice at Keystone United Methodist Church in Odessa.Rose, 14, a Crews Lakes Middle School eighth-grader, is back at hand-bell practi...
Published: 04/24/18
Hillsborough: No way we can afford teacher raises this year

Hillsborough: No way we can afford teacher raises this year

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District is in bad financial shape and its reputation for sound management is perhaps undeserved, the district’s own fiscal team testified Monday in a hearing concerning teacher salaries.The district "made finan...
Published: 04/23/18

School news for April 27

School Calendar• May 17-20: High school graduations• May 25: Last day of school for studentsBriefs• School Safety Town Hall Meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. May 2 at River Ridge Middle/High, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey and 6 to 8 p....
Published: 04/23/18
A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

The young man in a white jail jumpsuit, handcuffed and shackled, looked past the throng of reporters pointing microphones toward his face, barely opening his mouth as he answered questions."I shot through the door," he said, looking at a female repor...
Published: 04/21/18
After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

TAMPA — Confronted in late 2017 with reports of misconduct by substitute teachers hired through a contractor, Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins said he would ask tough questions and demand answers. He had his lawyer, Jeff Gibson, ...
Published: 04/21/18
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Nicole Leary and Taylor Redington stood outside St. Petersburg High School on Friday morning with parents and protesters who had gathered with bullhorns and signs. In a few minutes they would lead about 70 students on a walk to City Hall, joining oth...
Published: 04/20/18
Official: Shotgun in guitar case was used in school shooting

Official: Shotgun in guitar case was used in school shooting

FORT LAUDERDALE — A gunman who carried a shotgun in a guitar case opened fire Friday in a Florida high school, wounding one student before he was arrested on a day planned for a national classroom walkout to protest gun violence, authorities said. It...
Published: 04/20/18
Eakins: New ‘achievement zone’ would lift struggling schools

Eakins: New ‘achievement zone’ would lift struggling schools

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins is preparing to reorganize his cabinet — for the third time since 2015 — in an effort to coordinate programs at the district’s highest-needs schools.In an interview this week, Eakins descr...
Published: 04/20/18