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Follow the rules, Pasco teachers tell school district officials

Union officials say they intend to press for strict adherence to requirements for contract waivers at schools.

Not every school needs to run exactly the same way.

Some require different academic programs. Others benefit from modified class schedules.

The United School Employees of Pasco takes no issue with that. But when negotiators for the Pasco County school district wanted to change contract language to make it easier for schools to adopt such steps that might conflict with teachers’ contract, the union’s bargaining team had a demand.

Do it right.

In one of the final agreements adopted before concluding contract talks Tuesday, the district sought to lower the needed faculty vote to gain a contract waiver from 75 percent to 60 percent. It also looked to give schools an extra month to win support.

The USEP accepted the later deadline and a lower vote threshold, though it pressed for and won a 67 percent level. But it did so with a clear message.

“Our willingness to do this comes with a hard line on all the schools that are doing it without having the proper votes,” USEP negotiator Lynn Cavall told the district representatives.

She suggested that more than one school has implemented a modified schedule or adopted a program without following the contract terms.

“We will [file grievances against] every one of the schools and expect it to be done properly,” Cavall said. “They need to have the votes.”

District negotiator Nora Light assured the USEP that the employee relations department would vigorously pursue reported missteps. The sides signed the agreement, along with a flurry of others related to workers compensation, virtual programs and working conditions, on their way to completing collective bargaining before winter break — a goal both had in mind when they began talks earlier in the year.