Pinellas schools spokeswoman retires
Andrea Zahn, spokeswoman for Pinellas County schools, said this morning that she plans to retire Jan. 4.
Zahn has 22 years with Pinellas County schools, according to the district's website. She has served as the director of communications for years, acting as spokeswoman and coordinating the release of public records through her office. Reached Monday morning, Zahn said her departure was planned. She was in a meeting, however, and said she couldn't immediately talk about her decision at length.
Zahn's office was the subject of an audit report released in May that recommended a restructured communications system, including someone to serve on the superintendent's cabinet as "Chief Communications Officer," handling both internal and external communications for the district.
Since former superintendent Julie Janssen was terminated and interim superintendent John Stewart took the reins in September, Stewart has been increasingly relying upon the expertise of strategic communications coordinator Donna Winchester. Winchester, a former St. Petersburg Times reporter who was hired by Janssen in 2009, is responsible for creating and disseminating the Friday Update, a weekly newsletter sent to board members and others about important developments affecting the district's administration. The Friday Update received high praise in the aforementioned audit.
Before Janssen left, she recommended board members name district TV station manager David Cook to the top communications position, but Janssen withdrew that proposal after board members raised questions about how the job description was written.