Pasco superintendent to reading, literacy coaches: You're not fired
All during a hiring freeze when it's tough to keep a job in Florida schools, much less find a new one.
The gossip is only half-true, superintendent Heather Fiorentino wrote to employees, seeking to stave off any further misunderstanding.
Yes, the district is redefining its literacy specialist jobs, she wrote. But that's only to ensure it qualifies for as much federal stimulus funding for them as possible.
It means that some employees will have to reapply for their jobs, she added, but that's mostly just a paper transaction:
The School Board will consider the proposal tonight. Read on for Fiorentino's full letter.
From: Heather Fiorentino <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 2009 16:12:34 -0400
To: Heather <email@example.com>
Conversation: Clarification on new positions
Subject: Clarification on new positions
The Employee Budget Committee met recently. USEP has requested that I send
an email to clarify any confusion surrounding the District's recent
announcement of our intent to enhance the quality of our comprehensive
literacy programs through the creation of the K-12 Literacy Coach job
description. As you may know, our District has targeted literacy as a high
priority in our District Strategic Plan because student performance data
indicates it is an area of opportunity for improvement throughout the
You are also probably aware of the serious financial shortfall facing the
District due to Florida's economic downturn. The American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act (ARRA) allocates federal funds to stimulate the economy and
help school districts preserve jobs during this time of economic crisis.
These funds are being used by the state to fill gaps in state per student
funding (State Stabilization Funds) and are also being distributed to
districts in the form of increases to the Title I and IDEA grant programs.
In order to maximize the use of these funds to protect jobs throughout the
District, we must ensure compliance with the strict federal guidelines and
requirements for use of these funds.
One of these important guidelines is ensuring the funds are used to
facilitate reform in an area of identified need, such as our literacy
program. The creation of the K-12 Literacy Coach position is a significant
role change for professionals who provide teacher support and enhance the
quality of instruction for 21st Century Literacy. Additionally, the new
role furthers the Response to Intervention initiative by folding into the
job description the coaching of skills related to problem solving and
response to instruction. By creating the K-12 Literacy Coach, we plan to
enhance our literacy programs and meet the requirements for expenditure of
ARRA funds. Specifically, we are meeting the requirement to supplement not
supplant services through the use of federal funding. The use of ARRA funds
to support the new positions allows for the redistribution of General
Revenue funds, preserving other positions throughout the District. I am
confident this will be of great benefit to our students and entire staff.
Again, one of the primary goals of this change is to protect jobs. We are
not trying to eliminate positions. Persons currently employed in affected
positions who are unable to meet the qualifications and/or perform the new
job duties of the K-12 Literacy Coach will receive assistance in finding
placement in a different position. In addition, we will be working with
USEP to determine impact bargaining implications.
I understand the uncertainty and fear that many staff are experiencing
during these turbulent times. I can assure you that the Board and I are
working diligently to minimize any negative impact this budget crisis could
have on our students and staff. We need your patience and flexibility as we
work to implement creative solutions to preserve as many jobs as possible.
Unfortunately, there will be changes and difficult decisions that accompany
the deep cuts that have to be made in our budget; however, I am confident
that we can overcome these challenges by working together.
I trust this information provides clarification on this important issue.
Should you have additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to
contact my office.