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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Major initiative, superintendent's evaluation left off Pinellas board agenda



The Pinellas County School Board had a busy work session Tuesday. Board members received a new action plan to address the achievement gap, called Bridging the Gap. They were given a proposed evaluation tool for superintendent Mike Grego and asked to provide him with feedback ahead of his first evaluation.

And they heard a presentation about a new technology initiative in some Title 1 schools.

If you were a member of the public, those items would have come as a surprise. Not one of them was listed on the agenda in advance of the workshop, as required by state law. Instead superintendent Mike Grego presented them during "leadership discussion," a portion of the agenda typically reserved for brief updates from the superintendent and board members about activities they have participated in or events they have attended.

Occasionally, board members bring up specific concerns during that part of the meeting.

But as The Gradebook has noted before, there's been a pattern under the new administration of holding back items from the public ahead of meetings. We wrote in late June about a workshop where the public didn't receive ahead of the meeting the budget, updated job descriptions, the district's strategic plan and a proposal to eliminate the district's internal police force. Those items were listed on the agenda for discussion, but the actual items weren't provided until after The Gradebook complained.

In this case, board members went through their agenda Tuesday, hearing presentations and discussing the Lew Williams Early Childhood Education Center, school improvement plans, professional development, district application programs, and an energy savings proposal.

Grego used leadership to bring forward the other three items. A lawyer for the School Board said after the meeting that it's not unusual for items to come up during leadership. 

But in this case, each one had been prepared in advance of the meeting. Staff members were present and ready for their presentation about technology. Grego provided a memo dated Sept. 17 with his proposed evaluation tool, and the handout for Bridging the Gap included a "communication timeline" that stated the superintendent would provide information to the School Board on Tuesday. 

Copies of the items weren't available to the public ahead of time, either online or on paper. A member of the public would have only known about the discussions by attending the meeting, which started at 2 p.m. Tuesday and ended at about 6:30 p.m.

District officials are obligated to provide the public with the agenda at least seven days before a public meeting. Back up materials, if available, are to be posted on a public agency's website. The agenda "shall include a statement of the general subject matter to be considered." The agenda "shall contain the items to be considered in order of presentation."

After the agenda has been made available to the public a "change shall be made only for good cause."

The Gradebook will be blogging about the missing items Wednesday for members of the public who weren't at the meeting Tuesday.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 11:29am]


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