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Pasco ratifies teacher contract just as the school year comes to a close

Teacher stands in front of a white board in front of a classroom.  Some students in front of her look down, writing, while others are looking at her.
A Pasco County School employees' union representative said he hopes an August referendum will pass, bringing salary increases for the district.

Staff should receive their supplemental checks in mid-June, according to the district.

Finally, Pasco County Schools and the district's union have a contract for this school year — just as the year draws to an end.

The deal will give district employees a four percent supplemental payment to their salaries. Staff should receive their supplemental checks around June 17, according to the district.

While employees passed the contract with more than 90 percent support, Don Peace, president of the United School Employees of Pasco, said he's still hoping to get future salary increases for the district.

"We want to get money in people's hands as soon as possible, especially with the times and the financial situation being what it is now," he said. "And we need to help people as much as we can."

Peace said he has advocated for a secondary source of funding for the past several years, and is hopeful the August 23 referendum to raise salaries will pass.

The referendum aims to make district salaries more competitive with nearby counties.

Read more: Florida raised the starting salary for teachers, but longtime educators say they face stagnant pay

If approved, the tax rate would go up $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value. In sum, the property tax could bring in up to $37 million per year for the four years it would be in place, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

This year's contract doesn't address changes that need to made to bring veteran teachers' wages up, even as starting salaries have increased, Peace added.

"What they have effectively done for the past few years, is they've raised the floor on teacher pay, but they have not addressed the ceiling."

These longtime teachers need to be rewarded, Peace said.

"They are the people of leadership," he said. "They are the mentor teachers. They are the experienced people that every parent wants to have in front of their children."

Bailey LeFever is a reporter focusing on education and health in the greater Tampa Bay region.
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