Pasco School Board seeks answers on secondary school assistant principals
In preparations for its vote on appointments Tuesday evening, the Pasco School Board sought to address one of the big questions circulating in the community: Why does it seem like middle and secondary schools keep their assistant principals long after the their enrollment declines?
"The perception is we never reduce administrators at schools that are losing population," board chairwoman Joanne Hurley said. "Let's talk about it."
Land O'Lakes High principal Ric Mellin spoke up, noting his school often is the example that's used. He explained that the school had five assistant principals before Sunlake High opened, and it has five now. The difference, he continued, is that the school actually was allocated more assistant principals in the past but traded them in for discipline assistants to help handle the crowded school.
"That is not an unusual strategy when a school is overcrowded," assistant superintendent Tina Tiede told the board. "You need more sets of eyes."
When the enrollment shrank as Sunlake opened, Land O'Lakes lost those assistants, Mellin said. "Responsibilities are now falling back on administrative staff."
It's been the same at other middle and high schools around the county, Fivay High principal Angie Stone said. Even elementary schools such as Seven Oaks have lost extra assistant principals as their populations decreased, Sand Pine Elementary principal Todd Cluff told the board.
Board members said they were satisfied with the explanation. "I think we've covered what's going on in the schools," board member Allen Altman said.
That did not mean they were accepting of the administration's planned staffing cuts overall, though. They pointed to reports from the state indicating that Pasco is over-staffed compared to other similarly-sized districts.
"It is difficult for me to be comfortable doing the cuts that we have proposed at the school level ... until we get answers to those," Altman said.
The board continues working toward a balanced budget. It is set to consider its appointment and reappointment list later in the evening.
UPDATE: The board adopted the appointment and reappointment list without comment.