Pasco superintendent Browning urges principals to build better relationships
In what very well might have been his longest speech ever, Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning spent two hours Monday afternoon laying out his views on how he expects school principals to act in his new world order.
First and repeatedly, Browning told principals he will rely on them as the school-based experts in his team of leaders. As such, he said, they need to feel comfortable to disagree with him, to speak their minds and to lead with authority.
"You are a vital, key part of this team," he said. "I want you to start believing in it."
The days of top-down management from the district are over, Browning said to smiles and nods. Rather, principals will be left to make decisions in the best interest of their schools, based on the district's overriding vision that all students learn and achieve. The district will act to support the schools.
"You are going to be held accountable for this result," Browning told the group. "But you are also going to be freed up to find the ways to achieve this result."
To get there, though, Browning told the principals of his expectations of them as leaders. He wants them to listen to every employee, even the ones they may have written off, in search of the best answers. "Listen before you decide," he said.
He told them to take into consideration what might be happening outside school, and not to tell people to "leave it at the door." He reminded them that the best leaders have committed followers, not upset employees. "Do not be an autocrat," he said.
And he told them to build stronger relationships with their staffs, students, parents and communities. He announced his plans to visit schools to see what's really happening, expressing clear disdain for "dog and pony shows." If they're not convinced that they're in the right place doing the right thing, Browning told the group, "you need to come see me."
The response was favorable among the principals, who took copious notes during this first meeting between them and the new superintendent. After a much needed break, they continued the meeting to discuss Common Core adoption time lines and response procedures for special education emergencies.
Browning has invited all staff members to introductory meetings in New Port Richey and Wesley Chapel in early January, too.
[Pasco County School District photo}