LAND O’LAKES — After eight months of talks, Pasco County school teachers and support staff have a tentative contract deal for the year that ends within weeks.
The agreement will provide 4 percent one-time supplements across the board, with the paychecks expected to be delivered some time in June. Full-time workers at the lowest end of the salary scale will be guaranteed a supplement of at least $700, before taxes.
When meeting Friday, representatives for the United School Employees of Pasco had requested an extra bump for those workers, noting 4 percent is less for people making below $15 an hour than it is for teachers who earn more than $40,000 a year.
The terms also guarantee teachers will receive a permanent raise of about 2.7 percent on or about the first day of their next contract, which begins in August. That amount will come from the state’s budgeted salary increase allocation, if Gov. Ron DeSantis signs it as expected.
Negotiators for both sides said they were pleased to have concluded the bargaining, which lasted longer than in any other year in memory. They had agreed to wait until after the state distributed updated funding information in January, at which point the district learned it had less money to put into pay than it had anticipated.
“The important piece is that, as we’ve said from the beginning, this is not a good year,” said Nora Light, the district’s teacher contract negotiator. “Offering a supplement instead of a raise is not what the district ever intended. Our teachers deserve more.”
Jeff Larsen, who represented the union, said he was disappointed not to have gotten teachers a raise this year. He was encouraged about the raise guarantee for August.
“That is not the end of the 2022-23 negotiations,” he said. “We will continue to try to negotiate for additional salary.”
For the support staff, union negotiator Lynn Cavall said she was gratified that the district took steps to meet the needs of workers at the low end of the scale. She looked forward to quickly returning to the table to begin discussing “a living wage” for the staff moving forward.
Tom Neesham, the district’s negotiator for the support staff contract, predicted those employees will likely see “the biggest impact” in their pay in the coming year. It’s critical to improve their pay, he said, “so we can compete to keep our best employees here.”
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