Pinellas debates a 'chief turnaround officer'
Superintendent Julie Janssen is looking to hire a new "chief turnaround officer" to help oversee the district's most struggling schools, but some school board members aren't sure she should.
Board member Lew Williams raised the issue at the end of Tuesday's board meeting. He asked whether a principal on special assignment (Charlene Einsel) could serve as the chief turnaround officer. "I'm trying to look at saving a position," he said.
Rita Vasquez was briefly the chief turnaround officer until she was promoted to regional superintendent in February. If we understand right, she continued her CTO responsibilities overseeing the four high schools under state oversight. But the district is reducing the number of regional superintendents from six to five, and in the meantime, there are more schools coming under state oversight.
"It's a hugely important job that is monitoring and visiting those schools on a regular basis," assistant superintendent Pam Moore told the board.
Vasquez was paid $86,368 as CTO, with half of that funded through a school improvement grant, and half with district money.
Board member Janet Clark said the grant does not require the district to have a CTO position. Board attorney Jim Robinson agreed.
"That's not to say that there can't, or there shouldn't be," he said. "I just want to be clear that there are functions that have to be fulfilled. They could be fulfilled by an existing position."
Board members Williams, Linda Lerner and Terry Krassner all said they wanted more information, and Janssen said she would oblige. Board chair Carol Cook said the issue will be discussed at a future workshop.
"I just know that we, in our budget discussions, we definitely wanted to eliminate one regional superintendent," Krassner said. "And it sounds like ... we're still going to be adding somebody at that same level, no matter what we call them. I hope that we can really revisit that or you can really look at the position we have in place and (see) if it could be shared by existing personnel."