1. Pasco

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Sept. 21

Published Sep. 17, 2018

Re: Pasco deal for teachers another 'slap on the face' | Sept. 7 letter

Kenny Blankenship's recent letter to the editor confirms why he is a social studies teacher and not a math teacher. Like the Tampa Bay Times, Pasco County Schools has a fact-checking system. They're very similar. Our metrics are True, False, and Mouth on Fire. Mouth on Fire is an egregious falsehood.

Let's first take Mr. Blankenship's assertion that we have presented a proposal for teacher salary adjustments at the bargaining table. A public Board workshop was held and a number of options were discussed. We have not discussed economic issues at the union bargaining table, which can be confirmed by the union. We rate Mr. Blankenship's assertion Mouth on Fire. Someone get a fire extinguisher.

Our favorite is his assertion that the "proposal" discussed is a pay cut. Mr. Blankenship's current contractual workday is 7.5 hours, a half-hour of which is paid lunch. That is 37.5 hours per week, including lunch. The proposal he references suggests adding one-half hour a day to a teacher's schedule, making an 8-hour workday, with a half-hour paid lunch included in the day. On average, each teacher would see approximately a $3,000 increase in annual salary. He claims this would be a 15 percent cut in pay. Again, we rate this assertion Mouth on Fire. This fire is so big we may need a couple of fire extinguishers.

For the finale, let's take all of his assertions as one, "this proposal will reduce our hourly rate of pay and negatively impact our future earnings and retirement," and "unused sick leave." The "proposal" would positively impact retirement, sick leave bank would reflect the new increase in hours, and no one's hourly rate would go down. Mr. Blankenship's claim that the district's "proposal" would reduce the hourly rate of pay and negatively impact teachers' future earnings and retirement is entirely unfounded.

If an 8-hour day is implemented, annual salaries would be adjusted based on current hourly rates, granting approximately a 6.7 percent increase in pay to instructional staff, not a 15 percent pay cut. This equates to an average annual increase of around $3,000. Contrary to Mr. Blankenship's claim, retirement earnings, which are based on annual salaries, would be increased, and future payouts of unused sick leave would not be impacted, since hourly rates would not be decreased to institute an 8-hour day. Three alarm "Mouth on Fire!" Call the fire department!

Mr. Blankenship states, "One has to wonder why Mr. Browning and staff consistently seek to demean, denigrate and diminish teachers so much?" Mr. Blankenship demeans his own profession by spreading "Mouth on Fire" falsehoods and failing to get his facts straight.

We would be remiss if we did not point out that his lack of leadership and tendency to create conspiracy theories ultimately led to his colleagues voting him out as union president, and it appears he has learned nothing as a result. Get your facts straight, Mr. Blankenship.

Ray Gadd, deputy superintendent, Pasco County Schools