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  1. Education

Pasco School Board approves contract, raises for teachers, other employees

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County school employees should look for raises in the first paychecks they receive in September.

The School Board approved contracts for teachers and school-related personnel Tuesday, along with similar 3 percent pay increases for administrators and other non-bargaining staffers.

The unanimous vote came ahead of the United School Employees of Pasco ratification balloting, which will take place Sept. 15.

In addition to the raises, the agreement creates a voluntary sick leave sharing program and modifies the way teachers are evaluated. Board Vice Chairwoman Joanne Hurley noted it continues the district's commitment of providing fully paid employee health benefits, something most other districts abandoned long ago.

"I don't want people to just take that lightly, because we may not be in the position to do that every year," Hurley said.

United School Employees president Kenny Blankenship thanked the board for its support of what he called a "fair agreement."

He noted that it was unprecedented for the board to vote on the negotiated deal before employee ratification, for which the USEP executive board has recommended approval.

"I have heard very few complaints about what we have done," Blankenship said. "There have been some, but very few."

The union plans to hold information sessions for employees before its vote. The results should be available Sept. 17.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at jsolochek@tampabay.com or (813) 909-4614. Follow @JeffSolochek.

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