We’re pretty sure many member of the United School Employees of Pasco — or at least the union leadership — are learning the truth of the old adage “be careful of what you wish for because you might get it.” We hereby declare over the honeymoon between the union and Superintendent of Schools Kurt Browning. Years of money problems resulting from the post-2007 housing collapse and recession and increasing pressure from Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., to improve student performance had many in the Pasco School District looking for someone to blame. Rightly or wrongly a lot of the anger was directed at then-Superintendent Heather Fiorentino. So when Browning, with the union’s support, trounced Fiorentino in the 2012 Republican primary, pretty much winning the superintendent’s job in the process, many in the school district were hoping better times were ahead. Zoom ahead to this week, where we find union president Lynn Webb telling the school board things aren’t “hunky-dory.” According to Webb, Browning is violating the union’s contract by making teachers devote too much time to the district’s “professional learning community” effort, which debuted this year and is supposed to foster instructional collaboration and help students learn. This, Webb, said, requires a lot of meetings that deprive teachers of lesson planning time.
An angry Browning fired back, telling Webb he resented the suggestion he was abusing teachers and denied he is violating the union contract. Webb responded by telling Browning he does not possess the power to “re-interpret 30 years of contract negotiations.” Well, folks, it’s only three years until the next superintendent election.