Pasco teachers, superintendent settle grievance over workload
LAND O’ LAKES - United School Employees of Pasco and Superintendent Kurt Browning have settled grievances filed in October by elementary school teachers who complained about their growing workload, the union announced. That means the grievances won’t need to go to a hearing before the school board. The union announced that it reached the agreement last week, a little over a month after Browning presented his settlement proposal that included making optional some reading, math and science benchmark assessments used to measure student learning. The district, though, will continue to use the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading, commonly known as FAIR testing, to meet a state requirement that students receive a benchmark assessment in reading at least three times a year.Among other things, the settlement also says principals will be told teachers should not have to attend non-essential committee meetings and that teachers will receive the amount of individual planning time called for in their contract. The union filed two grievances in October on behalf of more than 1,300 Pasco County elementary teachers. The teachers said that paperwork, meetings and too much emphasis on student testing were eating into their teaching and planning time. Former Superintendent Heather Fiorentino heard testimony about the grievances Nov. 1 and ruled against the union two weeks later. Fiorentino said much of the testing was necessary because of state laws or rules on student assessment. Union President Lynne Webb said at the time that taking the case to the school board could be the next step, but first the union would discuss the concerns with Browning, who was sworn in as the new superintendent Nov. 20. The union issued a statement saying the settlement reached with Browning “brings relief” for many of the concerns raised by the teachers, but the union will continue to monitor the situation to make sure the commitments are met.