Monday, December 11, 2017
Education

Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Hillsborough County’s public school teachers are horn-honking, voice-raising, sign-waving, foot-stomping mad, and I can’t blame them. They are paying for a problem they didn’t create.

About one-third of the workforce was expecting to receive a $4,000 raise that had been promised, but after some dithering and harrumphing from top district officials, teachers learned the other night they might only get $92 instead.

Merry Christmas, y’all.

They already feel disrespected by lawmakers, officials and generally by people with fancy titles. This didn’t help.

Teachers responded with a noisy protest outside the School Board building, described by Tampa Bay Times education reporter Marlene Sokol a "carnival-like affair that included a hamburger stand and dozens of children."

The good news is, teachers can buy a lot of hamburgers with that extra 92 bucks.

I did a little net-surfing to see what else teachers can afford if they accept this offer (which I wouldn’t if I was in their shoes).

I saw a Kuerig coffee maker advertised for $92 on Amazon, although teachers should probably rule that out since they also would need those little coffee packs. That’s a budget-buster.

There was a heart-rate sensor marked down to $71 from the original $89. A teacher might find that handy the next time they look at their pay stub.

It’s not going out on a thin limb to say this situation will not end well. Fingers are already being pointed in both directions and both sides are dug in to positions that are oceans apart.

The board would have been smarter to stick to its "we have no money, so you get no raise" posture instead of offering a $1.8 million bonus pool that immediately was spun by the union as a slap in the face.

The board never said how the pool had to be divided — remember, only one-third of teachers were in line for the $4,000 raise.

But the union made its point by taking the board’s offer and making it look as Scrooge-like as possible. It divided the figure among all 20,000 district employees, not just those losing out on the pay bump.

Hence, the $92 figure.

All board members can do is point to the district’s dwindling cash reserve and the dire consequences that will follow if it gets worse.

"Our superintendent has had to make some extremely difficult decisions," employee relations manager Mark West said.

West has been tasked with delivering the bad news to teachers about the pay raise. In the interest of transparency, his annual salary is $118,437.

Let’s accept a few basic truths about what’s happening, starting with the fact the union should be screaming bloody murder about what is happening.

The union represents teachers, and its leaders should be holding the board’s collective tootsies to the firepit over the promise it made.

Board members can talk until their tongues melt about the financial crisis that has trashed district finances, and the union’s response should be that a promise is a promise.

The problem with that, though, is the board can come back and say okay fine, what if we lay off a bunch of teachers so we can make the numbers work?

Or maybe members say they won’t fix the air conditioning that always breaks down all over the district. Or they won’t repair leaky roofs. Then they could add, if you think it’s bad now, wait ‘til those lovely folks in Tallahassee tell us to manage our budget better instead of asking for more money.

All these things are true, and there is no easy answer.

Teachers are right to feel they are being forced to pay for district mismanagement that goes back to the MaryEllen Elia era.

Here’s something no one can hide from, though. How will they ever believe anything the board tells them in the future?

Comments
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey has learned all the tricks to get her kids out of bed and off to school every morning. But this year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every school day with a knot i...
Updated: 7 hours ago

University of Central Florida Greeks won’t hold social events, serve alcohol for 6 weeks this spring

ORLANDO — University of Central Florida fraternities and sororities won’t host social activities or any events with drinking for at least the first six weeks of the spring semester, up from the two-week ban on alcohol that has been in place in the pa...
Published: 12/08/17
Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Disturbed by stories about the rape of teens by supervisory staff, a pandemic of sometimes savage force, brutal beatdowns ordered by youth care workers and policies that permit the hiring of violent offenders, Miami-Dade’s state attorney wants to kno...
Published: 12/07/17
Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Hillsborough County’s public school teachers are horn-honking, voice-raising, sign-waving, foot-stomping mad, and I can’t blame them. They are paying for a problem they didn’t create. About one-third of the workforce was expecting to receive a $4,000...
Published: 12/07/17
In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

SPRING HILL — On a small wooden dock at the Cross Bar Ranch, Cynthia Brinker gingerly pokes through the trappings in her fishing net, plucking out a tiny creature to examine close up. "What the heck is this?" the Weightman Middle School studen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

BROOKSVILLE — For just a year and a half, Steve Crognale has been the principal at the Endeavor and Discovery Academies. But now, he’s been named the Hernando School District Principal of the Year for 2018. Endeavor serves students, most of them hig...
Published: 12/06/17
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey is skilled at calming first-day-of-school jitters. But this school year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every weekday with a knot in her stomach.It’s been there ever since th...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Why do universities handle sexual assault cases, anyway?

Why do universities handle sexual assault cases, anyway?

News stories about campus sexual assault often get the question, "Why do schools handle these cases, anyway?"Readers often wonder how universities got tasked with handling these convoluted cases in the first place. Where, they ask, do the police come...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

TAMPA — The second Hillsborough County School Board meeting in less than a month took place Tuesday against a backdrop of honking car horns, cheering teachers and audience members moving through the room in shifts.Dressed in blue union-issued T-shirt...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17
Hillsborough school district names Teacher of the Year finalists

Hillsborough school district names Teacher of the Year finalists

Finalists were announced Tuesday for Hillsborough County Teacher of the year and other honors.Winners will be announced at a banquet on Jan. 16.The finalists for teacher of the year are: Jennifer Jackson, seventh grade science, Stewart Middle; Alexa ...
Published: 12/05/17