As the District continues its efforts to prioritize employee salary increases, there continues to be general consensus that we have to look beyond state funding increases if we want to position Pasco as a leader in employee salaries among surrounding and like-sized districts.
To that end, the District has offered a two-year salary funding plan to the Board that calls for approximately $43 million for employee salaries. Funding for this plan would come primarily from new state funds received each year, with the goal of directing approximately $27.3 million of those new funds to employee salaries over the next two years. The remaining $15.7 million would come from re-visiting the schedules of secondary classroom teachers with the objective of increasing their student contact from five periods to six periods each day starting in the 2020-2021 school year. Included in the resources below is the initial School Board workshop presentation on this concept.
While the distribution of any identified funding is largely a subject for collective bargaining with USEP, the proposed amounts would be sufficient to increase employee salaries by an average of 8 to 12 percent over the next two years. This amount would also be sufficient to increase the starting teacher salary in Pasco to at least $42,000. Without implementation of the six-period instructional workday at the middle and high school levels, there will not be additional funds to reach either the 8 to 12 percent salary increase or the $42,000 average starting teacher salary. Salary increases will continue to be based primarily on state legislative funding increases if/when they occur.
Steps have already been taken to engage teachers, administrators, and USEP to develop the specifics around how this plan would change the classroom teacher workday at the secondary level and how the District could fully implement a six-period instructional workday for secondary teachers for 2020-2021. District leadership understands that this would be a significant shift for secondary classroom teachers, and we want to have all stakeholders, including USEP, at the table to analyze the pros, cons, and barriers that might exist with implementation.
We received some very important feedback when this idea was brought forward last year, and we have done our best to identify ways to address many of the concerns that were raised by teachers at that time. We are no longer proposing to increase the workday from 7.5 to 8 hours, and we have taken care to develop a plan that would compensate secondary teachers at a rate that meets or exceeds the value of the current .2 additional period supplement that is offered to teachers who voluntarily take on an additional period each day.
The goal of this concept is to be able to match or exceed the employee salaries in surrounding and like-sized school districts. To do that, we will have to more closely match the underlying working conditions in those districts. One of those conditions would be having secondary classroom teachers instruct six periods of students each day. Included in the resources on this webpage is a graphic that shows how many instructional periods secondary teachers are teaching within each Florida school district. It shows that secondary teachers in 70% of Florida school districts instruct students for at least six periods each day. All of our surrounding and like-sized districts are included in that percentage.
There is no denying that secondary teachers will be taking on additional students, and the work that goes along with that. We want to make sure that the increase in salary that comes along with the increased workload properly compensates them for that additional work. We also are committed to identifying sufficient time before or after the student day for teacher planning and collaboration. In the coming days, weeks, and months, stakeholders will be given ways to offer their feedback and ideas for implementation. At this point, many of the details of the plan have been left intentionally undecided so that staff can work with teachers, administrators, and USEP to formulate the details in a way that we hope will be acceptable to the impacted parties. By implementing the secondary teaching day changes in 2020-2021, we can take the time needed to build a well-thought-out plan. If we do not implement this change, Pasco teacher salaries likely will continue to lag behind our neighboring and like-sized districts.
Final distribution of salary dollars for teachers and SRP is subject to the collective bargaining process with USEP.
To achieve the maximum savings and still build in planning time, the District has identified alternative scheduling options that could reduce the length of the student day without sacrificing the current level of instructional contact time, and therefore increase the amount of before- and after-school time available to schools for planning and collaboration. Some of these same options would provide the equivalent of a first or seventh period planning period to secondary teachers, with the main difference being that students would not be on campus during this time. The goal of many of these options is to keep the total amount of planning time as close as possible to what teachers have now, just during different portions of the teacher workday and without increasing the mandatory teacher workday beyond 7.5 hours (which many districts, including Hillsborough county, have done).
Alternative schedules are designed to reduce the number of classes students take (and teachers teach) each day, and in some cases each semester, by providing longer but fewer classes each day. These schedules still provide an equivalent amount of instructional contact time with students but reduce the amount of time spent on activities like passing between classes and stand-alone intervention activities. While the implementation of alternative scheduling does change the way master scheduling is completed and does require some modification of instructional practices by teachers, there are many benefits that make it worthy of consideration. By reducing the length of the student day, the District can increase the amount of time available to secondary teachers before and after school for planning and collaboration activities.
An additional benefit of alternative scheduling is that secondary teachers are required to see fewer students each day (and depending on the model, each semester). In addition, the increased length of the individual instructional periods allows for intervention activities to occur within the scheduled instructional period (instead of a separate intervention period) for those students needing additional support.