More on Pinellas County's communications shake-up
You might have seen the news that Pinellas County Superintendent John Stewart unveiled his plan to revamp the district's office of communication. The school board is expected to vote on the matter Dec. 6.
Here are a few more of the details about the change for those of you who like to know about such internal shake-ups:
Andrea Zahn, who currently heads the department, is retiring effective Jan. 4. (But, of course, you already knew that.) Her $77,741 position is being eliminated.
In her place, a new position has been created called "director of strategic communications." This job will go to Donna Winchester, left, a former St. Petersburg Times education reporter who has been serving as "coordinator of strategic communications" since being hired by the district in 2009. Winchester's proposed promotion brings a salary increase of almost 8 percent, from $68,301 to $73,765, effective Dec. 7, according to assistant superintendent Ron Ciranna.
Simultaneously, the district is moving two of the department's nine current positions out of the communications office into other parts of the administration, downgrading a secretary position to one that is paid less money, keeping the TV manager job held by David Cook, eliminating the four remaining positions and creating four new ones in their place.
The four new positions are: An assistant director of strategic communications with a proposed salary of $63,483 to $92,305; a public information officer with a proposed salary of $58,781; and, two communications specialists with proposed salaries of $43,206 a piece, according to the online job postings.
As you can see, the board is already advertising the positions. And though Stewart and Ciranna said they'd like to get the new jobs filled in a hurry (January, perhaps?), they can't start lining up interviews until after the board formally approves the new job descriptions next week.
Stewart told The Gradebook after Monday's board workshop that even though the department is shrinking from nine to seven positions, he couldn't say whether the changes will result in a net increase or decrease in cost to the district. It all depends, he said, on whether the people currently employed in the office of communications end up staying in the department, moving into other district positions or decide to leave the district altogether.
And just so you remember . . . the reason all of this is going down is that an external audit commissioned by former superintendent Julie Janssen and released earlier this year recommended the district completely change its communications culture to ensure better sharing of information internally and externally.