Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco superintendent rejects teachers' grievance over workload

LAND O'LAKES — As one of her final actions in office, Pasco schools superintendent Heather Fiorentino has ruled against a class-action grievance by more than 1,300 elementary school teachers.

The teachers had complained that their workload had become overly burdensome, in part because of additional tasks assigned to them outside their contracted responsibilities.

Fiorentino, who sat through a two-hour hearing Nov. 1 on the union complaint, acknowledged in her finding that teachers are forced to work harder than ever before.

"I certainly appreciate and understand the concerns that were brought forward by (the United School Employees of Pasco) during this grievance hearing," she wrote. "There is no question that the nature of work in education is changing and that there is an ever increasing push for districts, schools and teachers to allow for data to drive the educational decisions and programs in our schools."

That does not mean, however, that the concerns raised by the teachers violated their contract, she continued. She rejected their requests to reduce the number of nonmandatory tests for students, eliminate school-based meetings and trainings not required by law or rule, and provide extra pay and planning time for teachers.

She wrote that the district will enforce the teachers' negotiated contract against any specific violations that might occur.

United School Employees of Pasco leaders were not impressed with Fiorentino's decision.

"They did nothing," said USEP business representative Jim Ciadella, who argued the teachers' case to Fiorentino. "I am disappointed. We thought there would be more movement on the district's part."

He noted that teachers had attempted to talk through solutions with principals and district-level administrators over several months before filing a formal complaint. To read Fiorentino's response that district-level administrators would "continue to work with the elementary principals" to reduce the work load was disheartening, he said.

USEP president Lynne Webb suggested that Fiorentino's response amounted to "kicking the can down the road."

Already a lame duck, Fiorentino essentially left the issue for either superintendent-elect Kurt Browning or the School Board to handle, Webb said.

"It would be interesting once Kurt Browning is sworn in to see what his reaction to it is, because obviously he is going to inherit this," she said. "If we don't feel there is going to be any progress with this, we'll have to take it to the School Board."

Board members did not want to comment directly on the case because they might have to sit in judgment over it. They did recognize that the growing load of paperwork, meetings and data crunching has contributed to decreasing morale among many teachers.

"I can tell you this is not just an issue for Pasco County," board chairwoman Joanne Hurley said. "This is a statewide issue."

She noted that a task force of superintendents is advising the governor and Legislature about ways to curtail some of the bureaucracy and red tape that hinder teachers from their primary classroom responsibilities.

If there are steps that the district can take to ease the burden, Browning should have the opportunity to consider those, board member Alison Crumbley said.

Even though Fiorentino's formal response is official, Browning could review the situation and make overtures to the USEP for a settlement before the issue would go to the board. Webb said the USEP would ask for an extension of time to file a request to be heard by the board, in order to give Browning that time.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at jsolochek@tampabay.com, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Pasco superintendent rejects teachers' grievance over workload 11/13/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 7:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Updated game story: Lightning's Brayden Point credits luck, opportunity for OT winner vs. Jets

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — His coach says he plays every game as if he doesn't play his best, he's going to be sent down. That is not the case with Brayden Point, but who doesn't want that kind of effort from a second-year player who has more than established himself in the NHL?

  2. Brayden Point scores in OT to give Lightning win over Jets

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Jets saw Saturday's game against the Lightning as a benchmark game, a way to measure themselves against the NHL's top team. The Lightning had circled the game, the last of a four-game home stand.

  3. Baker: In my Heisman Trophy vote, talent is the only consideration

    College

    There's a disconnect between what the Heisman Trophy is and what it claims to be.

  4. Israeli strikes kill 2 Hamas men after Gaza rocket attack

    World

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli airstrikes killed two Hamas members early Saturday following a rocket attack on Israel, in the latest fallout from President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which has roiled the region and the larger Muslim world.

  5. Mysterious 'white plague' threatens South Florida coral reefs

    Associated Press

    MIAMI — A mysterious epidemic continues to sweep South Florida's reefs, transforming corals into lifeless skeletons and threatening undersea structures that support tourism, provide hurricane protection and serve as homes to a vast range of marine life.