Hernando teachers: remove superintendent Wayne Alexander
UPDATED 3:00 P.M.
BROOKSVILLE --Superintendent Wayne Alexander pushed back today against calls by the Hernando County teacher's union for his dismissal.
"I don’t see removing me as a solution to the budget constraints and unknowns that currently exist," he told the Gradebook.
In a resolution crafted Tuesday, the Hernando Classroom Teachers' Association union said the School Board should remove Alexander as superintendent, less than two years into his tenure, and rescind all teacher nonreappointments pending review by an independent committee.
It said morale among district employees was at its "lowest level in decades due to unnecessary reductions in staffing and blatant favoritism in nonreappointments."
"When you have a team that’s having problems, what do you do?" asked HCTA president Joe Vitalo. "You get rid of the coach."
Two weeks ago the district launched a wave of downsizing, telling around 200 non-tenured teachers and support staff that their positions were being eliminated. Those reductions come in addition to around 80 nonreappointments issued in March for performance reasons.
Alexander said those reductions were necessary to plug a projected deficit of 15 percent or more in the district's budget for next fall. The union said those moves were premature in light of recent budget plans from the House and Senate, with some observers predicting a shortfall for districts of 7 percent or less.
"We’re not getting double digit cuts from the state, so why are we acting like we need more?" Vitalo said.
Alexander said his hands were tied by the uncertain state funding picture, and by his desire to provide plenty of notice to employees that their positions might be in jeopardy.
But he acknowledged that some teachers might prefer to keep their jobs for now, and take their chances with a summer layoff if the money's not there.
"Theyr’e saying, 'We’ll take a chance, we’ll roll the dice, cut less money now, Wayne,'" he said. "(But) if you kept your jobs, you might need to take a lot less money."
And would he be interested in keeping people employed, if that meant negotiating other items on the district's cost-cutting list, such as a pay freeze or pay cut?
"Most definitely," Alexander said.
For more details and updates, visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com or read tomorrow's St. Petersburg Times.
Tom Marshall, Times Staff Writer