Pasco school district will focus on support over salary for struggling schools
Pasco school district top officials are moving closer to a plan that would bolster support services in the county's most struggling schools.
The initiative would replace the idea of paying large bonuses to teachers working in those schools, a concept that superintendent Kurt Browning did not find successful at Lacoochee Elementary over the past three years.
"We've been talking through what draws people to these types of settings," said area superintendent Todd Cluff, who has two of the six schools in his service region. "It is very different to work in a school where students are coming with a strong support system. In a lot of these high needs schools, the majority of kids don't have that support."
As it's shaping up, the plan would spend $400,000 of district-level Title I funding on math and language arts coaches at each of the schools, as well as added teacher professional development and a new, standards-based math curriculum. Other curriculum changes will be considered.
The schools also would get first priority in the appointment of social workers, psychologists, nurses and other support teams.
"These schools typically are very fragile," Cluff said. "We need to offer thses supports, and not only in academic areas."
And two of the schools -- Gulfside Elementary and Hudson Elementary -- will have new principals. The other four principals will remain, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said, but will get added leadership training and advice.
Many teachers in these schools have said over time that providing added staffing and services would improve their work conditions more than the bonuses. Cluff observed that many teachers take the jobs in high needs schools because they see it as a calling or a mission. He was hopeful that the district's efforts, plus strong recruiting, will draw and keep top teachers at the struggling campuses.
The plans are not yet final. Next, the district administrators intend to seek more school-level input. Browning has said he wants to have the specifics worked out quickly, so the schools can implement any changes for the fall.