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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

More cell phone, communication devices proposed for Pasco school officials



Each year, Florida school districts must approve a list of employees authorized to have district-owned cell phones and other communication devices in an action separate from the budget. Lawmakers put that requirement into play after concerns arose that some districts, including Pinellas and Hernando, were issuing too many phones to too many people.

The Pasco school district traditionally has been on the low end of the usage spectrum. This year, the administration proposes to nearly double its coverage from 86 in 2011-12 to 140 devices.

The majority of the additions are Nextel handhelds with "push to talk" ability only, for dispatching and internal communications among employees in departments that require both coordination and work in the field rather than in an office. The maintenance department would get 44 of them, while the information services department would get another 10.

Many of these employees dropped their personal cell phone service in the past year, and they were driving back to their office to get their next assignments. The district was paying for gas and lost work time during that drive time. The cost of the phones will be $13,000 per year.

"We needed to improve direct communication with the employees at their sites," district spokeswoman Summer Romagnoli said.

New phone assignments would go to the planning director, the facilities operations manager, and the district recycling coordinator. School Board members, the superintendent and her top staff would continue to receive iPhones. School principals and the majority of department directors would have to use their own phones, as in the past. See the complete list attached below.

The district has not provided a cost assessment to the board for its consideration at its Tuesday meeting, when the item comes to a vote. But in a time of continued budget cuts, the question is likely to arise as to whether the benefits outweigh the costs of not having the phones. What do you think?

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 11:08am]


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