Three months after arriving at impasse, representatives for the Pasco County school district and the teachers bargaining unit came to terms on raises for the year that just entered its fourth quarter.
During talks Thursday, the sides agreed to a deal that boosts the cost-of-living increase for all employees to 1.1 percent, up from 0.875 percent. It also placed more money into the pot for performance-based pay to teachers on annual contracts, who comprise about 60 percent of the faculty.
“It worked out for everybody in all categories,” United School Employees of Pasco president Don Peace said of the agreement, which was a compromise between the district and union offers.
The sides were able to make such a move, Peace said, because employee attrition since January has allowed the same amount of available cash to be spread among fewer people.
There’s “more for all,” district employee relations director Kathy Scalise said.
The negotiators also agreed to remove from consideration any change to the use of seniority when deciding reductions in force and involuntary transfers. The district wanted to get rid of it, citing state law, while the USEP wanted to retain it as one of several factors.
“We will leave the existing language for this year, and work toward meeting something that is statutorily defined for the future,” Peace said.
They did not reach a final deal on training time for teachers in schools under state turnaround plans, and they did not even discuss their disagreements relating to performance evaluation guidelines. Both those items will head to mediation.
“We will contact the mediator [Friday] to try to get something scheduled sooner rather than later,” Scalise said.
Formal impasse hearings with a special hearing officer will be postponed until after the mediation. Because all facets of the contract are not yet complete, teachers will not yet see the agreed upon raises in their paychecks.
Both Peace and Scalise sounded positive that they had crossed some of the outstanding items off the negotiating to-do list.
“We got three of the four things done we wanted to,” Peace said, noting that even on the training time issue, they had come closer to agreement.
“It is progress,” Scalise said. “Not as much as we hoped, but certainly progress.”
All other district employees have concluded their contract talks and received their pay raises.