The Pasco County School Board has adopted a $1.8 billion budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.
Pasco Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning detailed some of the budget’s highlights prior to the board’s action, during its Sept. 12 meeting
Browning told the board that the general operating budget increased from $734.6 million to $850.1 million. The capital budget of $534.6 million is an increase of $195.4 million, over last year.
Browning said the district received an additional $57.2 million in state funding to accommodate its projected growth of 3,588 students and to pay for recurring expenses.
The budget includes an increase of 115.4 school allocations, includes the cost of opening Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation and costs for the newly named Angeline Academy of Innovation, a 6 through 12 magnet school under construction in the massive new community of Angeline, which is developing in Central Pasco.
Other construction projects include continuing renovations of Hudson High School, continuing construction of the new Gulf High School, construction of the Kirkland Ranch K-8, and construction of a classroom wing at Starkey Ranch K-8.
Other projects across the district include cafeteria renovations, replacement of HVAC systems and other infrastructure upgrades at various schools
A more detailed look at the school system’s budget can be found on the district’s website, at Pasco.k12.fl.us.
In other action, the school board and United School Employees of Pasco (USEP) reported to the board that they had reached an agreement on proposed raises.
“On Aug. 31, the instructional and SRP bargaining teams of USEP and the district met and formally agreed to terms on economics,” said Don Peace, USEP president.
“This was something that we talked about at the end of last year, that we were going to prioritize and try to get money in people’s pockets early this year.
“Most instructional employees will receive an increase of 5.4%, the largest in quite some time.
“The union and district also agreed to an increase in the board contribution to the health insurance benefit package of $379.94, bringing the total benefits contribution to over $7,800 per employee,” he said. It also has maintained a ‘free-to-the-employee’ insurance plan.
The settlement for school-related personnel (SRPs) is a bit more complicated, Peace said.
“Each SRP who has a year of service credit will see a salary increase to $15 an hour, or 5%, whichever is greater,” he said.
They also will receive the same insurance benefits.
Once the negotiations are completed, USEP and the district will begin conversations on prioritizing the referendum funds.
Assistant superintendent Kevin Shibley told board members that “the salary increase for the district’s employees is the largest they have received since prior to the housing recession, back in 2008.
“Every employee is going to see at least a 5% base increase, if they had a year of service last year. The minimum teacher salary is increasing to $46,425.
“The minimum hourly rate for non-exempt employees is going up to $15 per hour, and in some cases more.
“We also have some targeted compression and market adjustments that were made to specific salary schedules, to try to remain competitive in those areas,” he said.
The district completely covered increases to the state’s required retirement contribution.
Shibley called the pay package an “an important first step in what we are trying to do and kind of take the lead in the (Tampa) Bay area, in terms of employee compensation.”
The district anticipates that salary increases will hit paychecks on Sept. 30. Shibley also expects the district to run a special payroll on Oct. 21, which would provide the retroactive pay to employees entitled to retroactive pay.
School board member Megan Harding also reminded board members about her request to send a letter to the Pasco County Commission, urging the county board to take swift action regarding the installation of sidewalks to give students a safe place when walking to school.
She read the proposed letter to her colleagues.
It is expected to get a few slight tweaks and then will be sent to the county board.
Board chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong also told her colleagues that she would like to see the Florida School Boards Association (FSBA) include the issue of protecting teachers from lawsuits added to that organization’s legislative agenda.
Armstrong said teachers shouldn’t have to fear being sued for something that may, or may not be substantiated.
The board chairwoman said she wants to be sure that FSBA considers that issue, when deciding its legislative priorities for the next session.
Published September 21, 2022