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Pasco teachers ratify contract with 2.7 percent for raises

Union leaders say they will seek higher salaries in the next round of talks.

Pasco County school district teachers have overwhelmingly supported new contract terms for the year that’s just about to end.

In balloting conducted Wednesday through Friday, 93 percent of those who responded backed the deal, which came after months of negotiation, a declared impasse and federal mediation.

The School Board unanimously approved the agreement on Tuesday.

Teachers should begin seeing their increased pay rates in their next paychecks, according to the district, with back pay from the start of the school year coming in June.

The settlement in place, representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco and the district administration expect to head back to the table in a few weeks to begin bargaining for the next contract year that starts in July. School Board members have said they hope to find more money for salaries going forward, noting that the district’s wages are proving uncompetitive with surrounding school systems.

USEP president Don Peace said he hoped the board and administration would put employees first when deciding how to spend.

“This agreement brings to a focal point teacher evaluations and shows the need to prioritize employee salaries No. 1 in the budgetary process," Peace said. “We hope this effort will help the district recruit and retain highly qualified people to give our students the best opportunity for success.”

The Legislature increased its unrestricted funding to school districts by $75 per student, with lawmakers saying they hope the money will help boost pay. Some school district leaders across Florida have said that much of the increase could be absorbed by rising insurance, utility and other costs.