Sunday, February 18, 2018
Education

Browning plans to streamline Pasco schools hierarchy

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco schools superintendent-elect Kurt Browning wants to trim down the top brass at the district office.

He's asking the School Board to reduce the number of assistant superintendents from five to two, and also to collapse three employee training-related departments into one.

"We are going to be reconfiguring things," said Browning, who pledged during his campaign to streamline district operations. "I want the best structure first, and then I want the best people for that structure."

He refused to say whom he would place in each position, suggesting that he would make appointments in time for the board's Dec. 4 meeting.

"We're going to have places for folks," Browning said, offering reassurances that the current leadership team would not be left out in the cold in his reorganization.

School Board chairwoman Joanne Hurley praised Browning's idea of having one assistant superintendent over student achievement and another over administration and operations, with all other administrators reporting to one or the other.

"I like that approach," she said. "I think it will help with communication. I think it will also result in less silos."

The Florida Association for District School Superintendents criticized Pasco in its evaluation of district operations for having departments that operate in isolation, or silos, without adequate interaction for planning and execution of key functions.

Hurley and other board members said they intended to give Browning wide leeway to create the type of administration he wants to have as he takes office, just as it has worked with other superintendents on their staffing plans.

"That's his call, unless it's something that just looks crazy," board member Alison Crumbley said. "If it is more efficient, I'm all for it, given our budget situation. As long as it's going to work. We don't want to not be able to provide the services we need to provide."

Board member Allen Altman noted that Browning consulted with board members early in his planning stages, giving them ample opportunity to push back against any proposals they did not like. He said he agreed with the efficiencies that the superintendent-elect is promoting.

"I very much think he's headed down the right path," said Altman, a longtime friend and business partner of Browning's.

Browning said he came up with his ideas for the district after conferring with leaders in some high performing Florida districts, including Sarasota, Brevard and St. Johns. He took what he called a "hybrid" approach, adapting the successful concepts he liked best for Pasco County needs.

Changes will not stop with a handful of new job descriptions, he stressed.

"We will continue to look at departments, programs and people as we go through the next six to seven months," Browning explained, adding that he expected to have his full reorganization plan in place by the end of June, when all employee contracts end.

By that time, he said, he will have a better understanding on how well each employee fits in the structure, and where they might be best suited to serve. Browning, who defeated superintendent Heather Fiorentino in the Republican primary, reiterated that he had no plans to exact political retribution against anyone.

"I could care less their involvement in the superintendent's campaign," he said. "They are probably more concerned about it than I am."

The board is to consider Browning's recommendations on Nov. 20 after he is sworn in as superintendent.

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