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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Still waiting for the Gibson Report

5

October

Updating our coverage of Hillsborough County's cost-cutting efforts, a workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 9 a.m. to discuss the work of the Gibson Consulting Group.

But, when asked Tuesday for a copy of the Phase II report, district spokesman T.G. Taylor said again that it has not arrived yet.

Will it be posted online as an agenda item? 

Maybe, maybe not. Gibson, not the district, is giving next week's presentation. Taylor said it is entirely possible that no one -- not staff, and not the School Board members -- will see the report until they walk into the workshop. 

That's a different scenario than we saw with Phase I, which arrived in district officers weeks before Gibson presented it at a board meeting. That report, using industry standards, recommended pruning 1,700 jobs in the clerical, custodial, transportation and even teaching ranks.

Again, Phase II is supposed to use the information gathered in Phase I, and do a deeper analysis. Items listed in the contract include "financial analysis, staff analysis, performance measures analysis and organizational analysis." 

The contract does not speak specifically about six-figure executive jobs -- at least not in those terms. But, in answer to a comment Tuesday from the teacher's union, Superintendent Jeff Eakins said that managerial jobs are under review. Our best bet is that they will be included under "organizational analysis."

More highlights of Tuesday's board meeting, which ran past the Tampa Bay Times' print deadline:

* The board approved a resolution that allows staff to spend up to $40 million on air conditioning repairs in advance of a bond issue or some other type of borrowing. Jerry Ford, the district's longtime financial advisor, assured the board that the district is not overly indebted -- at least not compared to other school districts. However, he cautioned, money is not unlimited and it would be good to have the flexibility afforded by that resolution.

* There was no long discussion about SpringBoard. Instead, chief academic officer Elizabeth Agresta asked board members to submit their specific questions about the College Board products so they can be answered at a later meeting.

* Concerned about confusion surrounding the new universal restrooms, board member Melissa Snively asked that the matter be addressed by a policy and not just procedure. That suggestion led to a long discussion about the process of amending policy. For now, things will stand as they are.

* Several board members - Snively, primarily - urged district leaders to communicate more effectively about the current budget mess. Morale is low, she said, and negative publicity makes matters worse. Eakins agreed that more communication is in order. He also said he planned to speak with school principals today about leadership, and how they can communicate with their staffs in a way that will answer their questions and allay their fears.

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 11:06am]

    

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