The debate over regional superintendents
At Monday's workshop, the Pinellas County School Board briefly considered the possibility of reducing the number of regional superintendents and moving their regional offices. On both counts, the board agreed to leave things as they are, for now.
The district currently has six regional superintendents, but one of them, Alec Liem is retiring, and Superintendent Julie Janssen has proposed that he not be replaced. When board member Terry Krassner noted that the district had four regional superintendents at one time, Janssen noted that the district also had three directors of school operations at that time but has none now. "We're cutting one. I don't know how we can cut two," she said. "I think we're asking the same people to take on more and more and more."
Board member Robin Wikle pointed out that the district has cut $3.8 million in administration since 2009. "Could we do more? I think those are good questions to ask," she said. But "we do need to talk about what we've done."
The board did not press the issue, but board chair Carol Cook said there will be more discussion about the number of regional supers next year.
On a related note, the board weighed in more on a proposal to move the regional superintendents' offices from portables at Bayside High to the administration building in Largo.
"We have a big building here," Wikle said, referring to district headquarters.
The regional superintendents listed their take on the pros and cons of moving in a document you can see below. They saw one benefit and a whole lot of downside, including the convenience of being centrally located and avoiding the "appearance of TOP heavy administration."
Several board members found the arguments lacking.
"Convenience? You know what? We're past convenience," Wikle said. "We're trying to save $60 million."
The location is "an issue either way," said board member Peggy O'Shea. "I don't know what any one configuration (for locating regional supers) has worked better than any other," said board member Janet Clark.
The board didn't feel strongly enough, though, to press the issue for this year. Cook said Janssen will take a closer look at the pros and cons of moving for next year.