- Academic Tutors
The Board presented a job description at the June 22 SB meeting for “Academic Tutors”. This is an attempt to remediate students with learning loss – a noble plan that USEP solidly endorses. However, the job description was to be placed in the Instructional Bargaining Unit and did NOT include the requirement of having a valid teaching certificate, something that all others delivering instruction MUST have and were to be paid the new minimum salary of $44,820. USEP President Don Peace objected at the Board meeting and asked Board members to pull the item but that did not happen. After sending the District a Demand to Bargain letter, we were able to secure language that requires a valid certificate or the ability to get a temporary certificate, a win for USEP as we were able to retain the value of your teaching certificate.
- $1,000 Bonuses for Teachers
As you know, the governor plans to send out $1,000 bonuses to teachers. The plan is to use federal pandemic related funds to pay for these bonuses. The state only plans for these bonuses to go to those employees that meet the state statute definition of a teacher. The state plans to pay these bonuses directly rather than going through the districts.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to the Florida Department of Education stating that the bonus plan appears to conflict with the federal requirements in place for the use of these federal dollars. Specifically, this money is supposed to be used in a way that would help address student “learning loss” brought on by the pandemic.
When/if these bonuses become finalized, USEP is interested in making sure that all education employees can receive such a bonus and has stated such at recent School Board meetings and in preliminary conversations with senior District staff. The state only plans to include classroom teachers as identified in statute. Negotiations with the district are necessary to provide for those teachers excluded by the state and all SRP’s.
- The current state of the district’s budget
Throughout the summer, the district’s Chief Finance Officer Olga Swinson has been providing the school board with updates on the budget. The initial budget reported by Ms. Swinson included a deficit of over $11 million. Later, as more information came in, the deficit was reported to be around $8 million. On Tuesday, July 6th, during a workshop meeting Ms. Swinson provided the most recent budget update to the board members. At this time, the deficit has been reduced to $479,343. To reduce the deficit from the previous $8 million dollar figure, Ms. Swinson reported that district is using ESSER funds to pay for $3.9 million in textbooks, and the district plans to move $4.4 million from Capital Fund to the General fund to cover property insurance.
At the July 20th meeting, Olga Swinson will provide another update to the board. This update will include a balanced budget. A more accurate understanding of the district’s financial position will later come from analyzing actual student enrollment as reported with FTE counts.
- Status of Bargaining
Bargaining will be returning to the traditional face to face environment as opposed to a virtual format this year. We are waiting for the final budget proposal to begin that process, which, as noted above, will be presented at the School Board meeting on July 20.
- Rep Rally
Rep Rally will be held face to face on Saturday, August 7, 2021, at the Hilton Garden Inn near the Suncoast Parkway. Building Reps have been notified by Business Reps of this event, and it is imperative you let your Business Rep know that you will be attending as we need correct numbers for ordering food. If you have not yet done so, notify your business rep asap of your intent to attend.