What Happened to the $2,500 the Governor Promised? and other Questions.
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What Happened to the $2,500 the Governor Promised? and other Questions.

So What Happened to the $2,500 the Governor Promised?

The $2,500 was the Governor’s goal.  The amount was to include District retirement and FICA payments, which drops the amount to a little over $2,100.  The Legislature didn’t agree with the Governor and, instead, approved a lower amount.  That amount was designated as a “categorical.”  As a categorical, the funds can be spent only on teacher and school-based administrative raises.  However, the categorical was still open to negotiations and did not have to be based on performance.  Even though it’s a categorical, it is a permanent pay increase, not a bonus. It’s just not as much as was proposed by the Governor.

 As part of negotiations, USEP and the District agreed that at the end of the year if any of the categorical funds are left over, they will be distributed as additional raises, not necessarily based on performance.  It’s important to note that this year, the District was still facing a deficit and would not have had money for teacher raises were it not for the categorical. By getting the categorical, the District was able to free up other funds so that SRP could get raises, too!

 What About the Race to the Top (RTTT) Funds?

 This is the last year to spend any remaining RTTT funds.  It is also the year that RTTT requires “pay for performance.”  Therefore, the District and Union agreed to distribute any remaining RTTT funds by the end of the year to teachers based upon the 2012-13 evaluation that teachers will receive this November after all the school grades are issued.  We do not expect that to be a sizable amount but felt strongly that any remaining funds should go to the teachers as a one-time nonrecurring payment.

 What Happened to Step Increases?

 Senate Bill 736 required changes to the evaluation system.  Starting next year, there will be no increases for teachers with less than effective ratings.  For those rated effective or highly effective, the amount will be divided equally into shares and added to their 2013-14 salary.  (USEP will send out more information about this.) Starting next year, the only way for veteran teachers to earn more than one share is to give up their Professional Service Contract and opt for the Annual Contract pay plan.  If they do, they can earn a bit more but they will be on annual contract from year to year with no job security.  Those teachers who are currently on annual contract have no choice.  The legislature requires them to be on the performance schedule.   Basically, SB 736 has the effect of bribing veteran teachers to give up their job security and leave themselves vulnerable to being pushed out of the system and replaced by less expensive, less-job secure, less experienced teachers.

 How can We Fight This?

 The answer is by joining and supporting your union, the United School Employees of Pasco.  Your union and its State and National affiliates are the only ones fighting these legislative mandates.  We have cases pending in the state and Federal Courts to overturn some of the most detrimental aspects of SB-736 and other legislation. The fact is, your union is the only group fighting for you and your professional interests.  If you’re not a member,join today.  If you’re already a member, recruit another.

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If you are an employee of Pasco County Schools and not already a member of USEP, consider joining today! Members are eligible for a wide range of benefits through our affiliates and benefit partners. USEP also provides members with professional development opportunities and representation for member issues.