Pasco teacher contract talks to stretch into 2019

The sides stopped short of declaring impasse over the remaining issues.
Discussions over Pasco County teacher pay and benefits continued in collective bargaining Dec. 19, 2018. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Discussions over Pasco County teacher pay and benefits continued in collective bargaining Dec. 19, 2018. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Published December 20 2018

Pasco County teachers won't see any pay increases before spring break, perhaps later, as negotiations over their pay and working conditions sputtered in the final session of 2018.

Representatives of the United School Employees of Pasco accepted the district's offer to pay teachers a $925 supplement per semester for each dual enrollment course they instruct.

But they turned down a proposed 2 percent pay raise, asking instead for 2.5 percent. And they pushed back against the district's proposal to remove seniority from consideration during layoffs, saying they needed more time to offer alternatives that might keep years of service in play, just at a lesser level.

"Seniority is hugely important to our more senior teachers," USEP lead negotiator Val Smith explained.

Smith did not respond at all to the district's language on teacher evaluations, in which the administration agreed to leave the current plan in place for three years but refused to add the specific terms to the contract for future bargaining review. Both district and USEP officials had anticipated that issue would send the talks to impasse hearings with an outside magistrate.

But Smith said she was not yet ready to take that step, in part because of the need to further explore the seniority issue in the involuntary transfer and reduction in force sections of the contract.

She asked to continue the conversation in mid January.

District employee relations director Kathy Scalise agreed to extend the talks. She noted that the length of the talks will push any raises later into the year than originally hoped.

If the sides can ratify a deal by mid February, she said, payroll can get the money into checks by spring break. If not, she said, "We will be looking at late spring, early summer."

She expressed disappointment that the sides were not able to bring an end to the negotiations sooner. The school-related personnel negotiations also have not concluded.

Related coverage: No decisions emerge in tense talks for Pasco school employee contracts 

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