Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editorials

Hernando School Board leaves nonunion workers behind

The Hernando School Board majority is treating lower wage, nonunionized employees unfairly. This week, the board voted 3-2 denying raises to 67 workers not affiliated with a bargaining unit, even though the school board approved negotiated raises for the unionized faculty.

The 67 workers, known as confidential employees because of their access to student and employee records, were one of three employee groups denied raises. Withholding salary bumps from highly compensated district-level employees earning up to $97,000 is understandable in light of the district's tough budget year. But, doing likewise for 67 office workers like bookkeepers and secretaries who earn as little as $19,000 is absurd.

School board tightwads Matt Foreman, James Yant, and John Sweeney saved all of $93,000 by treating the office staffers differently than the unionized teachers.

The proposed salary adjustments came in January because the nearly 1,700-member Hernando Classroom Teachers Association agreed over the summer to forgo half of their previously negotiated raises in order to stave off job cuts. The so-called step increases, based on teacher longevity, will now cost the district close to $900,000 for the rest of the budget year.

But a pitch to offer the same raise to nonunion employees died amid rationalization that $93,000 for the lower-paid office staffers was not included in the budget. That fault lies with the school board. While budgeting for a half year's worth of raises for union members, the board was remiss for not doing likewise for its other employees.

The faulty budgeting is particularly egregious because school board members' salaries will increase automatically to $33,180. The size of the raise, less than 1 percent or $263 annually, is tiny, but the symbolism is large.

Some board members like Foreman and Yant return a portion of their wages to the general fund or donate to the nonprofit education foundation. However, board member Dianne Bonfield does not, telling staff writer Tony Marrero that giving money to the general fund would be hypocritical since she disagrees with how some of that money is spent.

What nonsense. Following her logic, property owners who object to school district spending would be hypocrites for paying their tax bills.

Bonfield, one of five people with elected authority to oversee the school district general fund, was wise to support the nonunion raises. But, she can help eliminate future salary debates if she and the rest of the board prepare a budget that provides for equal treatment of all district employees.

Comments
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Donít fall for Constitution Revision Commissionís tricks

Editorial: Donít fall for Constitution Revision Commissionís tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the stateís fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the November b...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region wonít make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Floridaís citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nationís health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

St. Petersburg city officials are exploring how to cut down on single-use plastic straws, a commendable effort to make the city even more environmentally minded. But to succeed, City Council members should craft a modest, reasonable restriction that ...
Published: 04/10/18