In the spirit of compromise, and with winter break looming, negotiators for Pasco County teachers and the school district concluded their 2019-20 contract talks late Tuesday with a spate of agreements including one for raises of 3.25 percent.
The settlement is similar to the one the district made with school-related personnel a month ago. The School Board approved that deal Tuesday evening, along with a separate action also granting 3.25 percent raises to non-negotiating employees.
United School Employees of Pasco president Don Peace said he was pleased that the district backed away from its initial proposal to require middle and high school teachers instruct six periods daily instead of the current five, with the savings targeted toward higher raises. The district also withdrew its proposals relating to the use of seniority in teacher involuntary transfers and to the timing of paid leave time, among others.
“We didn’t want that to be something that prevents us from settling,” explained district negotiator Nora Light.
The USEP made concessions, as well, changing its stance on how schools can get contract waivers to implement different types of daily class schedules, in addition to accepting a lower pay increase than requested.
“In response to all the things you’ve taken off, all the things we’ve worked on, we’re going to sign it,” USEP negotiator Lynn Cavall told the district bargaining team at 8:50 p.m. “Negotiations are closed for this year.”
Officials from the district and USEP said they were pleased to get the deal completed before vacation. The talks had been delayed from a week ago, raising some doubt whether the sides could finish up before break.
“In the end, we offered a fair deal,” district employee relations director Kathy Scalise said. “It was the best that we could do.”
USEP president Don Peace also deemed the agreement “fair,” and reflective of a compromising approach.
“We also agreed here that we have every intent of continuing discussions to find fair and equitable ways to address (ongoing) salary concerns,” Peace said.
They expected to hold a ratification vote early in 2020, with the added pay getting into paychecks early in the spring if approved.