Pay raises for the Pasco County school district’s non-instructional personnel came closer to fruition this week, as the district’s contract bargaining team presented a new economic offer that came nearer to what the United School Employees of Pasco had asked for.
Gone was the district’s proposal to boost pay by changing the daily class schedule of middle and high school teachers, with money coming from the resulting reduction in positions. Gone, too, was the second year raise offer that the district had considered along with the scheduling modifications.
In their place was a one-year offer of a 3 percent raise, still lower than the USEP’s ask for 4 percent. The district also would provide $384,922 to boost the salaries of instructional aides beyond the 3 percent, compared to the union’s request for $276,684.
District negotiator Tom Neesham said the instructional aide pay has historically been low, and they do an important job that deserves higher compensation. While the district cannot afford to give everyone bigger increases, it does want to target the money available to areas of need.
The district took a similar position in past years with bus drivers and other positions.
“We were pleased with that development,” said USEP negotiator Jim Ciadella, noting that about 800 workers would benefit from the instructional aide proposal.
At the same time, Ciadella said, “we’re not there yet" when it comes to a total deal. The union has asked for other concessions, such as higher mileage reimbursement rates and a service incentive for veteran employees, that the district has not included in its offer.
In addition to talking money, they also are still discussing possible changes to the safety and health protections in the contract.
Ciadella was hopeful that the sides could resolve those differences quickly. Neesham suggested they might be able to reach an agreement as early as next week, leaving the district and USEP free to focus on more contentious teacher contract talks.
“We’d love to see both done by Christmas,” Ciadella said.
The sides are scheduled to return to the table for school-related personnel talks on Monday. No date has been set for the teacher negotiating teams to resume bargaining.