Pasco County’s teacher of the year came up just short in succeeding Lynne Webb as president of the United School Employees of Pasco, the county’s teachers union.
Ken Blankenship, a former Land O’ Lakes High School teacher who has spent the past three years as an instructional vice president for the union, was elected the group’s leader with 55 percent of the vote. He defeated Pat Connolly, who currently teaches at the same school and earned Pasco’s prestigious instructional award, for the top job.
“I am dedicated and deeply committed to work on behalf of all employees to defend and improve contractual rights, ensure dignity and respect, and strengthen USEP membership and organizational unity for both units,” Blankenship said in a release.
Nearly 900 votes were cast in the election, which were sent by mail through the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections office. On the same ballot, Gay Kennedy won 64 percent of the vote to defeat Bill Hull for School-Related Personnel vice president.
Teacher vice president Lee Kulikauskas, secretary-treasurer Cheryl Vinson, and the union’s executive board were elected without opposition.
Webb, who served as president of the union for 15 years, chose not to seek re-election this term.
This will mean a big decision coming for Connolly. He told The Laker/Lutz News last month that if he lost the election, he would put in one more year at Land O’ Lakes High before looking for other opportunities. Based on how they felt about Connolly when helping him become teacher of the year, his students likely will be happy to have him back in the classroom.
“They trust me to take them on this ride called education,” Connolly told reporter B.C. Manion in February. “And, without that trust, I can’t do what I do. I think I have earned that trust from them. I’ve shown them that I care about them. I’ve shown them I have interesting things to teach them, and that I have faith that they can learn it.”