$5 million in staff reductions?
UPDATE AT 7:08 P.M.: A written response from Dr. Janssen is included below.
In a new video discussing budget cuts, Pinellas Superintendent Julie Janssen says the district has "managed to save $5 million through staff reductions, most of them at the administration building." But is that right?
District spokeswoman Andrea Zahn says the $5 million figure includes $2.5 million that the district estimates it will save by putting a couple hundred new teachers on lower-paying, provisional contracts for their first 97 days on the job. We don't want to split hairs here, but ... wouldn't that be more accurately defined as a "salary reduction" rather than a "staff reduction"?
Of the remaining $2.5 million, $1.6 million is from administration, through a combination of staff adjustments ($1.3 million) and "job title re-design" ($300,000). Example: The changes and cuts that have been made to the district's finance team. (We've asked for a list of the other changes and proposed changes that will add up to the $1.6 million.)
The district expects to save another $1 million from the current hiring freeze. But that's district wide and not limited to administration.
So is the statement misleading? "Could it have been labelled differently? Maybe," Zahn told The Gradebook. "I don't think anything was done to intentionally misinform or mischaracterize."
If it's wrong, then the district should "admit it and correct it and move on," school board member Linda Lerner said this afternoon, after an editorial board interview with the St. Petersburg Times. (She said she needs to take another look at the video before she can determine if it was inaccurate.) "Getting it right is better than having a nice video," she said.
Here is Dr. Janssen's written response: "The $5 million in staff reductions refers to overall reductions in staff-related areas. The majority of the reductions come from all non-school based offices, such as the administration building and our facilities and operations center. My intent has always been, and will continue to be, to keep budget cuts as far away from the classroom as possible.