In Pinellas, a steep learning curve
On Tuesday, the Pinellas School Board will swear in two brand-new members, choose a chairperson and head straight into a five-hour workshop. The session will include discussions about the dismal budget situation; negotiations with the teachers union, which aren't going well; and some potentially painful options for cutting the transportation budget.
So much for settling into the job.
The new board will include first-time members Nina Hayden (left) and Robin Wikle (right), elected Nov. 4. Veteran member Carol Cook kept her seat when no one filed to run against her, and Janet Clark won a second term with her general election victory over Jennifer Crockett. Often, the final weeks of the year are slow for the board, allowing time in election years for new members to get acquainted with things like Florida's complicated education finance system. Not this year.
Proposals to cut busing costs, possibly by closing schools or redrawing boundaries for school zones, will be among the topics Tuesday. The outgoing board told administrators last month to be "aggressive" about cutting busing costs while also devising a bus schedule that would lead to better school start times.
Board members indicated they were prepared to take some flak to get it done. Administrators appear to have taken them at their word. See the board's workshop agenda for Tuesday.