The United School Employees of Pasco and the Pasco school district are working out details to place a tentative 2018-19 contract before teachers as soon as possible, following a mediated settlement to the issues the sides hadn’t agreed upon until this past weekend.
A key aspect that leaders focused upon was the ability to get raises to the final group of district employees who had yet to get them.
But pay had been worked out about two weeks earlier. What remained were disputes over performance evaluations and training time that had vexed the sides for months.
On Saturday, they found short-term compromises that would also allow them to seek longer-range solutions. The details were not publicized in a brief joint statement issued by USEP and the district.
What were they?
Regarding evaluations, the sides accepted a memorandum of understanding that would hold in place current rules established over several months by a joint district-union working group , and subject any complaints to the district’s employee grievance process. At the end of the contract, the sides would reconvene to further discuss the best way to apply evaluations and their guidelines.
USEP members have called for the rules to remain a part of the negotiated contract, so they are subject to bargaining and not open to unilateral changes. The district wants to remove most of the details, saying it is a management prerogative to determine the evaluation standards.
Regarding training, the district aimed to set up open-ended times for professional development of teachers at schools facing state turnaround and accountability requirements, because of persistently low state grades. The USEP aimed to clarify that the teachers planning time would not be usurped for these trainings, which they wanted to be voluntary.
In the mediated agreement, the sides decided to limit the professional development to the first three planning days on the teacher work calendar, not to exceed half of each day. They also added language stating that the sessions would not be required, but would count toward certification training expectations.
The deal went further to add provisions relating to teachers’ state Value-Added Measure scores, which can be used to remove low scoring teachers from schools in the accountability system. Because the scores often are not available until the summer, the district relies on projections to determine whether the teachers must be transferred out of the low-performing schools.
The agreement would provide removed teachers a right to return to their schools, if their actual scores are “effective” or higher and a vacancy exists. This was something the USEP had requested.
These details and the rest of the contract must be ratified by the School Board and a majority of teachers in order to take effect.