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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco schools see 'engagement' rise, but pockets of concern remain



For the past three years, Gallup has surveyed Pasco County school district employees to gauge their "engagement" with their work. Using the results, superintendent Kurt Browning and his staff aim to uncover strengths and weaknesses within the system, and hone their practices to meet the district's mission.

The latest data show "positive, meaningful" improvement across the board, senior consultant Stephen Shields told the School Board. But areas of concern require attention, he said.

Shields pointed out that elementary school principals' ratings of the system declined significantly, and said that because they oversee so many employees, they should be listened to. After all, Shields said, 70 percent of workers' engagement is attributable to their managers' performance.

"We are missing something if we do not realize that your organization does not have one culture," he said. "Your organization has as many cultures as it has leaders."

In the past, Browning and his team have made changes based on the annual survey. The 2014 review, for instance, indicated troubles at Zephyrhills High School. Zephyrhills got new leaders over the summer, and its latest engagement rating rose on the 5-point scale from 2.98 to 3.63 -- the biggest gain of any school.

West Zephyrhills Elementary also had a large point gain of .61, logging in the highest percentage of engaged staff districtwide at 75 percent.

Other schools with the top levels of engagement include Trinity Elementary, New River Elementary, Pasco eSchool and Chester Taylor Elementary. Those at the bottom of the list include Stewart Middle, Seven Oaks Elementary and Irvin Education Center.

Lacoochee, Pasco and Veterans elementary schools saw the biggest declines in their engagement levels.

Among the specific questions in the survey, Shields said two stood out for their low support -- "I know what is expected of me at work" and "I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right." Those questions are indicators of stress on the job, he said, and teachers in particular rated those items low.

Shields suggested that the administration should capitalize upon positive relationships with workers to get to the bottom of the problems and try to resolve them. After all, "An organization does not change by survey," he said. "Only when leaders and teams change their behavior ... does culture change."

Browning said he was encouraged by the improving results, and that he intended to use the information to uncover and deal with problems within the system.

"It's allowing us to do exactly what we hoped to do," he said. "It just takes time."

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 4:05pm]


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