LAND O’LAKES — Representatives for the Pasco County school district did not budge Thursday in their offer of one-time supplemental pay for teachers and staff instead of raises this year.
They did, however, offer to quickly negotiate raises for the next budget year beginning July 1, when the district expects to have more available revenue.
“Our goal is to get right to work on doing that, and it looks like there is money to do that,” said district employee relations supervisor Tom Neesham, who leads bargaining for the non-instructional employee contract.
The district included language in its latest contract offer stating it expected to offer at least 2.69 percent raises, higher if additional resources are found.
“This would ensure that we’re not waiting until mid- to late-year to dole that out to teachers,” said employee relations supervisor Nora Light, who leads teacher contract talks for the district.
But for this round of talks, the district reiterated that it does not want to commit money it does not have.
“We’re asking them to be patient,” Neesham said.
United School Employees of Pasco president Don Peace said he was not happy with the direction that negotiations have taken, with less than two months before the school year ends. This is the first year in memory that bargaining has gone this late.
“Our members want raises,” Peace said, stressing the hard work they have done to keep schools open throughout the pandemic. “Our neighboring counties have found ways to do it.... We are certainly disappointed that hasn’t been able to happen here.”
Peace argued it would be irresponsible not to offer raises now, to keep employees from leaving. He expected to bring a counterproposal to the table on Monday, after surveying members for priorities.
“Our hope is we will have something they can work with,” he said.
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