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Fundamental school advocates worried about loss of assistant principals



Fundamental school advocates are among those upset about the principal and assistant principal changes announced by the Pinellas school district last week.

An assistant principal from each of the four secondary fundamental schools - Osceola High, and Clearwater, Madeira Beach and Thurgood Marshall middle schools - is being transferred to a traditional school. None are being replaced.

"Dr. Janssen is definitely disrupting the fundamental schools," fundamental school activist Bud Zimmer told The Gradebook. "By all three (middle) schools having 900 students, the workload for one assistant principal will be excessive. With two assistant principals, they could barely handle it."

No other middle or high schools are losing an assistant principal, according to the district.

The change means each fundamental middle will be down to one AP, compared to three at most of the other middle schools.

District officials haven't said why they're making the change, but they're clearly looking to cut costs.

Will having one fewer AP hurt? "I don't know that anybody really has an idea," said Teresa Daiker, who chairs the Fundamental Schools Advocacy Network (FAN). She said it's "positive" that the district thinks the fundamental schools can continue to perform well with less, but APs do a lot more than deal with student discipline. "I think it's going to be tough with one AP," she said.

UPDATE at 6:25 p.m.: Here is an e-mailed response we received from Amy Shafran, president of the Clearwater Fundamental Middle School PTA:

"I think it will be very difficult to manage with only one Assistant Principal at Clearwater Fundamental. Mrs. Underwood was truly an asset to the school. She coordinated many student programs, encouraged student leadership, and communicated discipline and behavior expecations. She was instrumental in involving families in all aspects of the middle school experience. The middle school years are a time of tremendous change and growth for children and Mrs. Underwood recognized this and worked tirelessly to promote responsibility and positive develpment. She will be missed.
For any middle school to lose an administrator will be an extreme hardship. It will be no exception for Clearwater Fundamental Middle School. While it is understood that all areas are suffering from the tough economy, I believe the district makes serious errors when eliminating school based positions. These people directly impact children's lives, motivate and encourage self directed learning, and help parents become more involved in their children's education. These are the factors that create successful school communities."

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 10:08am]


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