United School Employees of Pasco
USEP News and Updates
UNITER title
A Publication of the United School Employees of Pasco
May 15, 2019

Message from the President


Greetings members,
As we enter the final countdown to our year, I want to say “Thank you!” to those who have supported our efforts to make inroads with our contract on your behalf. Nobody really wants negotiations to last until April or May each year, however, we found the Instructional evaluation language was something we had to fight for. It is job security and financial gain for some 5200 of you. We feel comfortable with what was agreed upon through mediation, and look forward to tying up some loose ends with the evaluation process rather quickly for this next year. We also want to say “Thank you!” to our SRP, who, even though settling their own contract earlier in the year, stood in support of our Instructional brothers and sisters.

During this year end time of testing, please be aware of and adhere to testing guidelines. If you have a question, contact your administrator or this office for guidance.

Finally, upon completion of this year, get away from the hectic schedule you’ve been forced to maintain, and enjoy some time with family and friends. Rest your mind as well as your body. Let’s gear up emotionally over the summer to make 2019-2020 the best year yet!

See you in August.

In solidarity,

Don Peace, President

Reading Endorsement

House Bills (HB) 7069 and 7055 require changes to reading instruction policies at both the district and state level. Two such requirements pertain directly to reading endorsement: HB 7069 states that by July 1, 2020, retained students shall be provided with a teacher who is certified or endorsed in reading and HB 7055 states that by the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, intensive reading interventions must be provided by a teacher who is certified or endorsed in reading.

HB 7055 requires that any teacher who is providing intensive interventions to any K-12 student in reading must be certified or endorsed in reading. If you are a teacher who provides intensive interventions to students in reading, you will need to be certified or endorsed in reading by the 2020-2021 school year. This includes ESE teachers who are providing small group interventions. Intensive interventions would also include teaching ESY Summer Reading Camps and providing interventions to students identified to receive Tier 3 supports in reading. This applies to both elementary and secondary teachers.

The District is offering five reading endorsement courses three times a year (summer, fall, and winter) to provide an opportunity to add the endorsement to teaching certificates. To receive the endorsement, teachers must complete courses that develop their understanding of the foundations of language, research of best practices, assessment, and differentiation in reading, as well as a semester practicum. Once all five courses are successfully completed, teachers can add the endorsement to their certificate. Courses 1-4 can be taken in any order; course 5 can only be taken once Courses 1-4 are complete. Courses 1-4 are online and course 5 is offered face-to-face. You may take the courses you need to complete the endorsement through the District even if you took courses elsewhere. The District is also currently trying to create additional avenues to complete the reading endorsement.

Courses for the summer will open at Midnight on May1st. Fall courses will be listed in the back to school communication. Registration for all courses is through myPGS. If the course is full, please make sure you waitlist so the District can determine the need for additional sections. According to the District, if you cannot find the course on myPGS, it's because both the course and the waitlist are full. If you find this to be the case, please send an e-mail to your business rep for your worksite so USEP can also communicate the need.

The reading endorsement must be completed and added to a teacher's certificate by July 1, 2020. If the endorsement is not completed by July 1, 2020 and the teacher is serving a 3rd grade retained student in the year of retention OR is providing intensive interventions in reading, the teacher will be tagged out of field.

FDOE certification can review transcripts to determine if any of your previously taken reading courses can be applied towards an endorsement. Information can be found at: Unfortunately, reading certification is not a tested certification but a result of graduate study, so going through the District reading endorsement program is the most cost-effective and timely way for teachers to meet this requirement should it impact them.

If you have a master's degree in reading and have added reading certification to your teaching certificate, then it is not necessary for you to obtain a reading endorsement. Please note that you need to pass the FCTE in reading K-12 to add the master's degree to your certificate.

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Instructional Settlement Reached

After almost a full year, USEP and the District reached agreement on the 2018-2019 instructional contract during a 6 hour “mediation session” held on Saturday, April 13th. USEP declared impasse in contract bargaining on January 17, 2019, as it appeared the District was not going to change its position on 2 items:
** Teacher Evaluations
** Differentiated Accountability
Essentially, the issues with evaluations centered on the Union seeking to maintain the language from our past memorandums of understanding in the contract while the District decided it no longer needed to bargain this process and refused to put the process in the contract. Therefore, there has been considerable confusion over the actual process to be used by administrators conducting performance evaluations this year.

For those of you that are not aware of previous work done to create an agreeable process that would not have to be changed every year, a Teacher/District Workgroup, consisting of selected teachers and district supervisors and administrators, spent a full year developing a program that both sides ultimately believed would be an understandable and “fair” process to be implemented this and future years. This program was sent out in a District email back in August and September of 2018.

Finally, during bargaining sessions in January and March of 2019, and the fact that this late settlement resulted in fewer teachers being present & eligible (resignations, retirements, etc.) for the distribution of the 2.0% instructional payroll increase, teachers ended up with slightly more than our last proposal with increases ranging from 1.70% to 2.70%.

Therefore, in an effort to ensure teachers received these permanent salary increases (not bonuses) before the end of this current fiscal year (June 30th), the parties agreed to pull all evaluation proposals off the table, commit to the process the Teacher/District Workgroup established, and defer additional discussions to next year’s bargaining. There was also an agreement to allow additional PD for those schools that fall into the “differentiated accountability” model which amounted to one-half of 3 of the 4 quarter-ending planning days.

The ratification process was completed, with voting held on Wednesday, May 8, 2019, counting done on Friday, May 10th. The contract was ratified with 93% of the teacher vote approving the agreement.

A big “Thank you” to our USEP Bargaining Team for their commitment to this critical union activity!

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New USEP Business Reps!

As every organization changes as times goes by, so does your USEP! Due to the retirement of Karen Patterson and the career change for Val Smith, USEP has hired and welcomed to our organization 2 new Business Representatives. These are critical jobs for the organization and these Reps function as the first line of assistance to our school-based Building Reps and members.

Chris Siller

Born and raised in the city of Detroit, MI, on the city’s vibrant westside, I was able to learn at an early age to be responsible and to treat people with dignity and respect. I was also introduced to labor organizations at an early age due to my father being a skilled trade plumber and my mother being a nurse who went on to become a Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) and both of my parents were proud union members!

I began my career in labor while working for the Ford Motor Company in 2000. I was transferred to a new facility that was opening and I wanted to get involved with the union. I volunteered on the contract negotiations committee and later won the official election to be the Bargaining Committee Chairperson of a production facility that housed over 2,500 employees. I remained elected until 2010 when I resigned. Also in 2010, I was recruited by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and offered a staff position of Grievance Representative and remained in that position until being promoted to State Director in 2012. I remained in that position until 2015 when I transitioned to Chicago area and become the Chicago Midwest Regional Joint Board representing lower wage textile workers in the Midwest. I also was hired in 2015 by Wayne State University to organize graduate assistants and assist with their expiring contract.

While on vacation visiting family in Florida in 2018 I fell in love with the area and decided to relocate my family here. Upon arriving, an opportunity became available to work as a Business Representative for the teachers and SRP in Pasco County and I joined the United School Employees of Pasco (USEP)! Now the story continues in Pasco County and I am honored to have joined to effort to represent public education!

Carl Howard

Carl was hired to replace Val Smith and is covering the Northwest Region which encompasses the Port Richey, Hudson and parts of central Pasco county. Carl comes to us with a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Tennessee, and, more recently, a doctorate from the University of Central Florida. He spent several years in union leadership at the local, state, and national levels, including terms of as a local building representative and E-Board member while in his daily work in the Orange County School System where he worked as a Staffing Specialist, Reading Coach and an Elementary School teacher. His work experience includes several years coordinating special education programs and services and teaching at the elementary, middle and adult-education levels. He is an avid gardener and has volunteered with animal services as a foster pet parent as well as by trying to find forever homes for homeless pets.

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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.