Pinellas halts hiring
Hiring has been frozen, traveling and training will be curtailed, and programs could be eliminated as the Pinellas County School District braces for as much as a 4 percent cut in state school funding.
Superintendent Clayton Wilcox informed School Board members late Wednesday that the district "has every intention of returning to normal practice" as soon as possible. But for now, in addition to a hiring freeze on all "non-essential" personnel, he wants department heads to recommend budget cuts of no less than 2 percent within a week.
Also axed are overtime and compensatory time, unless approved by high-level administrators. District travel and training budgets that are not already approved have been frozen, too.
In a tersely-worded statement released Thursday, Wilcox said that "the only individuals who can actively be interviewed, offered employment and/or placed are classroom teachers who are counted in our class-size reduction calculations."
The move came a day after Deputy Education Commissioner Linda Champion told district superintendents that all districts should prepare for a 4 percent loss of state funding, perhaps as soon as a September special legislative session. Champion's call ended weeks of speculation regarding how a reduction in state revenue of more than $1-billion would affect school district budgets.
- Donna Winchester, Pinellas education reporter