The United School Employees of Pasco welcomes teachers and School Related Personnel (SRP) back to the 2012-2013 school year! Each new school year always brings a sense of excitement as schools greet and welcome our colleagues and students.
Despite the tough challenges ahead, our teachers and SRP are ready to do everything they can to help our students succeed, whether it’s keeping the buildings clean and in good repair, feeding nutritious meals, teaching the curriculum, or transporting our students safely back and forth each day! Each person contributes to our students’ and future’s success!
Budgets: Pasco’s funding from the state is still inadequate. In fact, this year’s funding is $50 million less than it was in 2008-09! Unfortunately, our elected officials continue to shirk their constitutional responsibility to adequately fund public education. As a result, our Superintendent is recommending a budget that again includes 2 furlough days and DOES NOT include any additional funding for projected increases in health insurance. USEP strongly objects to the budget and urges school employees to contact the School Board and ask that they reject the proposed budget. (USEP will send out contact information soon.) Please plan to attend the final budget hearing on Tuesday, September 18th at 6:00 at the School Board meeting room in Land O’ Lakes.
Furlough Repayment: Even though the District is budgeting for 2 more furlough days this year, they owe employees for one furlough day from last year. As a result of the terms from last year’s contract, unexpected savings in employee health care require the School Board to reimburse employees for one furlough day. Therefore, employees who were employed and contributed two full furlough days last school year, will receive reimbursement of up to one day on Friday, August 17th.
Negotiations: The negotiation teams have been to the table several times over the summer and have addressed a number of routine Memorandums of Understanding. USEP is still waiting for requested financial information and the outcome of the Superintendent and School Board races before putting forth its economic proposal. Meanwhile, teacher evaluations have continued to dominate instructional negotiations.
Election/Voting: Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 14th is Primary election day. Regardless of your party, you need to vote. The Republican Primary will determine who our next Superintendent will be: Kurt Browning or Heather Fiorentino. USEP’s sister organization TIGER PRIDE did not make an endorsement since a write-in candidate disenfranchised the vast majority of voters. However, everyone-regardless of political party-is eligible to cast a vote in the Primary for the School Board election. The Primary is THE election for School Board candidates. USEP’s TIGER PRIDE and the West Central Florida Federation of Labor have endorsed current SB Chair Joanne Hurley due to her demonstrated leadership and opposition to privatizing key District departments such as food service and transportation. The candidate you vote for is your choice, but please vote!
Legal Challenges: Thankfully, the Florida Education Association (FEA) has been successful so far in challenging the required 3% employee contribution to the FRS system. Our case goes to the Florida Supreme Court on September 7th. It will probably take several more months before a ruling will be issued. When we prevail, all affected employees will be reimbursed with interest the 3% contributions they made! Our state and national affiliates, FEA, NEA, & AFT, have also filed challenges against expanding vouchers to religious schools, and SB-736! Please note: the high cost of these court challenges are paid by the dues our members pay!
SB-736/Teacher Evaluations: In the second year of the new evaluation system for teachers, the District is proposing adding an additional component referred to as “Deliberate Practice” to replace the IDPD. USEP is negotiating this and other elements of the state-mandated evaluation system. USEP will hold a meeting from 5:00-6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 28th, in Land O’ Lakes for employees to get information and answers to their questions about the new evaluation system. Additional information on the meeting will be forthcoming.
Taking a Stand: Union workers built this country, established the middle class, and promoted public education. Thankfully, the public isn’t buying the politicians’ lies about unions and public education employees. Overwhelmingly the polls show that the public strongly supports their public schools and school employees and trusts them to make the best educational decisions for students. Now more than ever, it is important to support our union. We need to show strength and solidarity if we are going to provide the best learning environments for our students. After all, our employees’ working conditions are our students’ learning conditions, and that’s what USEP fights for!
- We need our union so we can take a stand and fight against politicians, excessive testing, education cuts, and attacks on the education profession and economic well-being.
- We need our union to help navigate the impacts of SB-736 and to challenge its constitutionality along with challenging other laws that harm education employees and our students.
- We need to get involved–not just pay dues.
- We need to appreciate that without our union, employees would be far worse off. Our union is looking after your interests, so you can serve our students!
The dues and commitment of our members help with the fights ahead. During this economically challenging time, their financial sacrifice to our organization is appreciated more than they can know. There is much work to be done, but with those who join and support our union, we will make our collective voice louder and more powerful.
Best wishes to all of the school employees and students for a successful school year!