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School Board members consider 4% pay increase

Pasco County School Board members are considering whether to give themselves a 4 percent raise.

The Florida School Boards Association has recommended raising board members' salaries from $36,055 to $37,516, beginning in January.

But Lynne Webb, the president of the United School Employees of Pasco, said School Board salaries should be frozen until they are the same as those of first-year teachers.

First-year teachers are paid $35,300, less than School Board members whose jobs are part-time, Webb pointed out.

"We recognize the amount of work you do, your responsibilities. But our representatives feel that this is a part-time job," Webb said of the board positions.

Board members voted Tuesday to keep their current pay, but to discuss the matter further during a meeting Dec. 19 when all five board members could be present. Cathi Martin was absent because her son was in the hospital.

They currently make less than board members in Hillsborough or Pinellas counties.

Chairwoman Marge Whaley spoke in favor of the raise. She said her job is getting more challenging as the county grows.

Under Florida law, school board members are the only "constitutional officers" - officials such as county commissioners, clerks of courts and tax collectors - that set their own salary. Before 2002, all constitutional officers salaries were set by a state formula, said Ruth Melton, the director of legislative relations for the Florida Association of School Boards.

Since the change, most districts follow the association's recommendation, which uses a state formula to determine salary increases. In tough financial times, some districts have frozen salaries or have a rate of increase equal to that of teachers, Melton said.

Gina Pace can be reached at (352) 521-6518 or gpace@sptimes.com.

FAST FACTS

In other news

- District staff postponed discussion about the financial recovery plan for the Language Academy charter school. Superintendent Heather Fiorentino had said the school should be shut down if its finances didn't improve. The delay will give academy officials more time to work on their plan.

- Board members approved a contract to buy 37 acres for $8-

million in northwest Pasco to build a high school on State Road 52 between Chicago and Canton avenues. The school is intended to relieve overcrowding at Ridgewood High School.

- Vince Schell, a geography teacher and soccer coach at Seven Springs Middle School, contested the decision to hire Oscar Ubillus as the boys head soccer coach at J.W. Mitchell High School earlier this year. Schell is a union member. Priority for jobs should be given to employees represented by the union, said business agent Jim Ciadella. Ubillus, an assistant coach for Mitchell before getting the top coaching job, is not represented by the union. The board upheld the decision to keep Ubillus as coach. Webb said the union will likely move to the next step in the process: a neutral third party.

Current

SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER SALARIES

Citrus: $30,598

Hernando: $30,200

Hillsborough: $39,520

Pasco: $36,055

Pinellas: $39,210

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