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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Team Hillsborough? Not so fast



Divisions on the Hillsborough School Board reared their head again Tuesday during a discussion over --what else -- whether they could call themselves a team.

During a leadership training exercise, members were asked to list teams. They agreed on PTA and schools, but began to snipe when someone asked if the School Board was a team.

Kurdell "We're not," Carol Kurdell (left) stated quietly.

Nothing is simple on an elected body that routinely pushes the 5-hour mark during its meetings.

Candy Olson wanted to explore the question. April Griffin and Susan Valdes were only too happy. (If anyone has forgotten the recent training when board member Jennifer Faliero told Griffin to get with the program or resign, allow us to refresh your memory here and here.)

April "There are a lot of little comments that are made here and there, and there's never any substance to them," Griffin (right) said. "I don't want side remarks. I want somebody to directly address me and tell me specifically whatever they don't like, or they do like."

Valdes cited as an example Olson's reaction to her use of the word "defiance" to describe principals who reject district priorities. But as passion began to rise, the Florida School Boards Association moderator injected some perspective. She encouraged officials to consider their different "mental models."

"That doesn't happen," Valdes said. "It's like getting to a place. I want to take I-4 and someone else wants to take back roads."

Then again, maybe teams don't have to get along. Olson observed that while doubles tennis players practically think alike, that's not the case on a baseball team, where each player fills his position.

"The Plant football team -- Go Panthers! -- may not like each other, but they play together very well," Olson said. She even suggested that the girls who dominate the School Board may do well to borrow male thinking patterns from time to time.

Board members practiced how to handle feedback when they get it from each other. Their FSBA trainer walked them through the steps: Request or decline the feedback. Say thank you. Do not rebut.

And they got on with work, reviewing how to set policy for the nation's eight-largest school district.

-- Letitia Stein

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:27am]


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