Gilzean takes job with voucher organization
Glenton Gilzean, a member of the Pinellas County School Board, has taken a job with Step Up for Students, a non-profit organization that administers the state's tax-credit scholarships. He'll be doing outreach for the group.
Gilzean sent an email to his fellow board members today to announce his new role. He didn't specify when he would start, other than to say "soon." He wrote that he saw the new role as a "perfect complement" to the board's vision of 100 percent student success.
The job is an interesting choice for a school board member, though, as many in public education don't view vouchers with a friendly eye. (The idea being that they take money away from the public schools.) The big question here is whether the new job poses a potential conflict of interest for Gilzean.
Board attorney David Koperski said he plans to talk to Gilzean Tuesday about the job. He didn't want to make specific remarks about Gilzean's new job until he's talked to him. But he said in general that board members can hold jobs - and often do - but it's possible to have a job in which the conflict is too great to keep it and serve as a board member.
The state's tax-credit scholarships are given to low-income students to help them pay the cost of a private education. The vouchers have been hugely popular, with substantial growth to the program. (See a previous blog post about the popularity of the program.) Tax-credit scholarships are a little different than other vouchers. Rather than paying for the scholarships directly from the state's coffers, the money comes from diverted tax dollars.
A corporation, for instance, can direct a portion of its tax bill to the scholarship program, rather than the state.
Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up for Students, called Gilzean a "great young talent" and said the organization was thrilled to have him.
Gilzean faces a tough fight for re-election against Rene Flowers, a former St. Petersburg city councilwoman. Gilzean is the incumbent, but hasn't been in Pinellas for long. He was appointed to the seat by Gov. Rick Scott after the unexpected death of board member Lew Williams. Flowers nearly won the seat in the five-person primary. The two now face each other in a run-off Nov. 6.