Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Pasco teachers union calls for tax referendum to fund pay raises

The president of Pasco County's school employees union is calling for a  referendum in which voters can decide whether to increase local property taxes so teachers and staff can get raises.

"USEP feels that the burden for coming up with additional dollars for the legislative shortfall  should be presented to the voters in the form of a ballot initiative, a referendum, to augment the general revenue, rather than to place this burden on the backs of a portion of our teachers," Peace said Thursday in a six-minute video responding to the district's conceptual plan of lengthening teacher work days in exchange for more money.

Superintendent Kurt Browning has suggested one possible way to improve teacher pay is to extend the work day by 30 minutes. Middle and high school teachers would teach an additional period per day.

That move, Browning said, would allow the district to reduce its staffing, freeing up millions of dollars it could put into wages for those who remain. He anticipated that teachers whose jobs are eliminated in the move would be absorbed into other positions.

Browning sent a video explanation of the idea — which would require collective bargaining approval with USEP — to all teachers, along with a request for input.

Related coverage: Pasco district officials seek more input on pay plan adjustments 

Peace's video, emailed to all district employees, came a day later.

In his comments, Peace made clear his organization's disdain for the "6 of 7 plan," which district officials have likened to the Hillsborough County school district's work model.

"Trying to be creative is appreciated," Peace said. "But this plan would essentially require more work, and more work time, for a disproportional salary adjustment. And therefore we believe it is not a salary increase."

He continued to note places where the district's comparison to Hillsborough are not entirely accurate. Yes, he said, Hillsborough teachers do work eight-hour days.

But Hillsborough high school teachers actually work six of eight class periods, not six of seven, Peace said. They still get a full 50-minute planning period and a lunch break during the regular student day, he noted, where Pasco's concept would move planning time to before or after classes.

Beyond such discrepancies, Peace went on, the USEP continues to believe that money exists in the district budget for "real raises" this year.

"Do you really feel this new idea is an improvement in your work life? We believe all it is really paying you for is additional work time. That's not a true salary increase," he said.

School Board members have said it's their priority to provide raises, to keep the district competitive with its neighbors. During budget deliberations, they asked the administration to come up with ideas to cut other spending areas in order to put more money into salaries.

Related coverage: Pasco School Board members to look for ways to pay employees more 

But at a workshop on the subject, the board did not accept a single idea, and instead decided to wait to see how much money is available through funds rolled over from 2017-18 and from state revenue because of unanticipated enrollment growth.

The sides have not held negotiations since.

The board's final budget hearing and budget adoption, meanwhile, are scheduled for Tuesday evening. The USEP is urging employees to again attend the session, to make a stand for improved teacher pay.

Comments
Florida education news: Oversight, choice, growth and more

Florida education news: Oversight, choice, growth and more

OVERSIGHT: To help convince voters to support its cause, the Hillsborough County school district announces well-respected Betty Castor will head a committee to review spending of revenue from a requested sales tax increase. The money would be de...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pasco schools see higher enrollment growth than projected

Pasco schools see higher enrollment growth than projected

In discussing pay raises, Pasco County school district officials have asked their employee negotiating groups to wait and see if more students turn up than expected.The state projected district enrollment to rise by 1,001 children. Any more than that...
Published: 09/17/18
Pasco school district changes its choice application procedures

Pasco school district changes its choice application procedures

Pasco County parents seeking to send their children to schools other than the ones they're assigned to will face a new set of deadlines this fall, as the district streamlines its process.Instead of separating the applications between magnet and open ...
Published: 09/17/18
Florida education news: School security, teacher pay, drinking water and more

Florida education news: School security, teacher pay, drinking water and more

SECURITY: The Florida Board of Education discusses ways to offer school districts more flexibility in the way they use future guardian funding. State lawmakers, however, aren't ready to release unused money from the current year allocation, TC P...
Published: 09/17/18
ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Sept. 9, 2018

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Sept. 9, 2018

School security remains a point of high concern for Florida schools. When it comes to funding, there’s talk of spending more. Yet when the idea of giving school districts flexibility in deciding how to use the money, there’s not too much ...
Published: 09/15/18
On the campaign trail with Hillsborough School Board candidate Karen Perez

On the campaign trail with Hillsborough School Board candidate Karen Perez

The Tampa Bay Times was not able to interview Karen Perez during her primary campaign for Hillsborough County School Board. After she placed second in a six-way districtwide race to replace April Griffin, we invited her again to complete our que...
Published: 09/14/18
Updated: 09/15/18
Les Muma, a familiar face at USF, will lead the search for its next president

Les Muma, a familiar face at USF, will lead the search for its next president

A familiar face will be leading the University of South Florida's quest to find a replacement for retiring president Judy Genshaft. Les Muma will chair the search committee, USF board of trustees chairman Brian Lamb announced Friday.Muma and his wife...
Published: 09/14/18
Meet this year’s National Merit Semifinalists from Tampa Bay

Meet this year’s National Merit Semifinalists from Tampa Bay

A total of 126 students from around the Tampa Bay area were announced this week as semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship program. They were among 16,000 semifinalists nationwide.Taken together, they are said to represent the top 1 perc...
Published: 09/14/18
Florida Board of Education explores flexibility for school guardian funding

Florida Board of Education explores flexibility for school guardian funding

Taking a lead from Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Board of Education member Michael Olenick on Friday pushed his colleagues to offer school districts flexibility in how they spend money set aside for security in the state budget."They're asking for this, a...
Published: 09/14/18
Pasco teachers union calls for tax referendum to fund pay raises

Pasco teachers union calls for tax referendum to fund pay raises

The president of Pasco County's school employees union is calling for a  referendum in which voters can decide whether to increase local property taxes so teachers and staff can get raises."USEP feels that the burden for coming up with additiona...
Published: 09/14/18