Pinellas is staffing up to help struggling schools
The Pinellas County school district’s new turnaround leader, Antonio Burt, will soon have a team to back him up.
School Board members at Tuesday’s workshop supported creating a team under Burt’s leadership to work with seven elementary schools: the five schools highlighted in the Times’ "Failure Factories" series, Campbell Park, Fairmount Park, Lakewood, Melrose and Maximo, as well as Sandy Lane and High Point, which currently have F grades from the state. Burt was hired in December to turn around the lowest-performing schools in the county.
The district is looking to hire a secretary, two assistant directors, and four instructional staff developers for the areas of math, science, primary reading and intermediate reading. These employees will report to Burt, who reports directly to superintendent Mike Grego.
Deputy superintendent Bill Corbett said the two assistant director positions will be created and the rest will be re-purposed from other positions within the district. Funding for those positions, which offer salaries of $76,391, will be paid for with Title I and Title II grant money. One assistant director will be charged with recruiting and training teachers, principals and paraprofessionals. The other will assist Burt on day-to-day duties such as visiting classrooms.
“We need to have an aggressive strategic plan to recruit talent,” Corbett said. “We feel the need to really focus on these schools.”
Burt said one recommendation that could soon come before the board could be a longer school day to get students on their appropriate grade level. Focus groups will be held with teachers and administrators to discuss possible solutions.
District officials agreed that the goal is to create a turnaround model that is preventative rather than reactive.
“The model we set up now is the perfect model particularly that it’s all elementary schools,” Burt said.