Additional duty days to get scrutiny in Pinellas
A divided Pinellas school board voted 4-3 last night to take a closer look at the "additional duty days" that are earned by many teachers, guidance counselors and other employees and cost the district about $4 million a year.
"It appears more and more requests seem to be coming forward," board chair Carol Cook told The Gradebook after the vote. "Is there a more efficient way of paying these people?"
Cook said she was reserving judgement on whether there was a problem, but wanted to make sure the right oversight processes are in place. Besides Cook, board members Peggy O'Shea, Robin Wikle and Janet Clark voted in favor of the motion, which included bringing the issue to a workshop. Members Linda Lerner, Terry Krassner and Lew Williams voted no.
Assistant superintendent Ron Ciranna said the district has been exercising more scrutiny over duty days since budget talks in the spring.
"Bill Lawrence and I worked hand in hand together," Ciranna told the board. "Any time we had a question with that, we would contact the person in charge of it, to make sure it was absolutely necessary to have these positions in place."
"If you want to put more constraints on that, we're certainly welcoming you to look at that," he continued. "But right now we have really tightened up the process , much more so than they have in previous years."
"I trust that the administration will employ these days in a most judicious manner," Williams said, addressing Ciranna. "I would just hope that as we move through this year, that we're not micromanaging things that you're doing if it's not broken."
Interim superintendent John Stewart weighed in, agreeing with the board majority that the issue deserved a closer look.
"There are ways to tighten down," he said. "There are a tremendous amount of days here."