UNITER – August 2019
 /  UNITER – August 2019
UNITER title
A Publication of the United School Employees of Pasco
August 16, 2019

Message from the President

Gavel

Dear Member,

Welcome back! As we enter the 2019-2020 school year, I hope you are well rested and ready to give Pasco’s students your best.

One of the things I am proudest to report to you all is that our density meets the statutory requirement for us to remain the Bargaining Agent for The District. Thanks to all of you for your work educating potential members on the value of our contract and being a part of one collective voice.

By the time you read this, our re-registration papers will have been sent off to PERC to be renewed for this next year. This year, our organizing campaign, “Back To School – 2019”, is being undertaken at the beginning of the year. We are trying to build our membership early and get more people actively involved in our organization (See related article on BTS-2019).

Our USEP staff has been working hard this summer on behalf of our members in preparation for this school year. Both Negotiating teams have been meeting to bargain with all employees in mind.

A very proud moment for USEP happened earlier this summer as we were able to settle the Teacher Evaluation by placing much of the old MOU into contract language and formed a handbook dedicated to the process for how observations take place. (See related article).

We were also able to come to a consensus with the District on the Grading Practices which were rolled out as mandate in May. No longer are these required, however, since this is a move toward compliance with statute, we are encouraging teachers to utilize as many of these Best Practices as possible. We are working with the District to address ongoing concerns and they have agreed to put a PD class online to help teachers better understand the dynamics of this new grading system. We would encourage all to take advantage of this opportunity and receive in-service points as well.

Please know that our members are a priority to us. No matter what your role in the student education process, every one of you make a difference. It still takes a village…

In solidarity,

Don Peace, President

USEP’s “BACK TO SCHOOL” Organizing Plan
Fall 2019

In an effort to continue increasing the density levels in both USEP Bargaining units as we strive to always meet or exceed the state-required “50% threshold” to remain the certified bargaining agent, USEP has created our next “recruitment incentive” to further encourage members to discuss union membership and obtain new members.  It is critical that all Building Reps continue to engage potential members in organizing conversations but also critical to engage current members on the merits of union membership to encourage retention. The Incentive program this year will put emphasis on employees joining the union earlier in the school year – critical to USEP!!

Month of Membership Teacher SRP
August 2019 $50 $50
September 2019 $50 $50

Dates of the Program: July 29, 2019 through September 30, 2019

Membership Objective: Increase Instructional Density to 60% as we will lose members due to retirement, resignations, death, etc. every June of the year.

Building Rep Incentives: Each BR will continue to receive $20 for each new member recruited. Any BR that recruits 5 or more members will be placed in a drawing for a financial award at the November Rep Council! 5 names will be drawn as winners!

Member Drop/Renewal: No incentive paid to any member who rejoins USEP after dropping their membership from last year’s incentive program. USEP will still pay the Building Rep/Member who signed up the employee a $20 incentive fee.

 

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Alternate Secondary Scheduling

As you’ve read by now, the Superintendent has made an informal proposal to USEP to significantly modify the daily work schedules of all secondary schools in our district. He is seeking a way to produce new revenue in our district, outside of the politically controlled state Legislature, to finally increase salaries of all teachers and staff. As you are painfully aware, the Legislature has not provided the funding for public schools that we all believe is required and has continually moved to increase the overall share of state dollars in both general operating and capital funds to charter and even private schools.

For those of you who have not heard or read about this new proposal, here are the fundamental details:

** All Middle and High School teachers would forgo a daily planning period and teach 6 of 6 periods of students;

** There would be some time, either before or after the school day, for planning but the traditional planning period would be gone;

** By doing this, the District would eliminate, through attrition only, approx. 220 teaching allocations creating a savings of over $15 Million (salaries, insurance, retirement, etc.)

** These “savings” would be used to increase all instructional salaries – when added to the regular state funding, increases of 8 – 12% would be given to teachers; other job categories would also benefit with increased salaries though perhaps not as significantly;

** There would be no real change in the daily schedules of elementary teachers, SRP, etc.

** USEP is reviewing “alternative scheduling” that will ensure daily planning while still creating the allocation savings and therefore salary increases proposed above.

USEP maintains the position that this District proposal is so broad and impactful to every employee that we did not want to make a rash decision to “just say NO” as many members have suggested we do. We believe that the best way to “review and vet” this idea is to meet with our members, hash out the details and arrive at a reasoned decision. That has been the operating principal since this proposal was made and continues to be. We plan to schedule additional meetings, circulate a more refined survey and then reach a decision and position. Please understand that there has been NO DECISION OR AGREEMENT on anything related to this proposal as of this date.

 

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Best and Brightest Update

This state Bonus program, introduced in the 2016-2017 school year in an attempt to recruit and retain teachers in Florida. USEP has lobbied against this flawed plan over the past 3 years but it still exists and takes money out of the total available to all teachers. The plan has now been revised to now include (3) separate and distinct categories. They are described below:

  1. Recruitment Bonus – a one time bonus of up to $4,000. This is given to newly hired teachers who are considered “content experts” in one of (5) content areas: Mathematics, Science, Computer Science, Civics, or Reading.

    Content Expert Definitions:
    • Mathematics/Science/Computer Science – must hold a BS degree in the subject area and have at least (5) years experience teaching or working in an associated field.
    • Civics – must hold at least a Master’s Degree in Political Science, American History, Soc. Studies or Social Science or a Bachelor’s Degree with (5) years experience teaching or working in an associated field.
    • Reading – must hold a Master’s Degree in English, Eng. Lit, Reading or Literacy instruction or a Bachelor’s Degree with (5) years experience teaching or working in an associated field.
  2. Retention Bonus’- K-12 classroom teachers who meet the following criteria:
    • Rated Highly Effective ($2,500) or Effective ($1,000) bonus;
    • Taught in the same school for two consecutive years;
    • Taught in a school that improved an “average of 3 percentage points or more in the percentage of total possible points achieved for determining school grades over the prior (3) years.”
  3. Recognition Bonus’ – K-12 “instructional personnel”, rated HE or Eff and are selected by their school principal can receive an additional bonus. The amount is NOT specified. The actual criteria is NOT spelled out in the law but must be approved by each District’s School Board. The bonus amount will depend on the amount of money left after paying the above 2 other bonus plans.

Eligible: classroom teachers, student personnel services, librarians/Media Specialists, other instructional staff and paraprofessionals.

Teacher Evaluations

USEP is pleased to again state that the union and District reached agreement for the “teacher evaluation” process on July 24th! This is the culmination of a 2-year process utilizing the Teacher Evaluation Workgroup, a collaborative effort of teachers and administrators. It also moves the evaluation process from a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) into contract language. This is the earliest this contentious process has been finalized and announced to teachers since state law changed the entire process in law back in 2011. This will allow teachers and administrators to have a much better idea of the expectations, scoring, the “FEAPS” and overall process as the school year begins vs. waiting for months to hear the details and hope that the evaluation was being done properly.

We are also happy to announce that the terms of this agreement are now placed in the actual body of the contract and in a document titled “Pasco County Evaluation Guidelines” vs. an annual Memorandum of Understanding. This change should also reduce the need for annual revisions to the process which will enable teachers to become more comfortable with the process over time.

The details of the agreement and the process can be found on the USEP website by clicking on the circle at the top of our page and then click on TE Guidelines.

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Benefits

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.