Saturday, November 17, 2018
Education

Eakins: Hillsborough schools could save $10M by ditching 'peer evaluators' who help rate teachers

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School Board voted Tuesday to spend $818,000 on an efficiency consultant — a day after superintendent Jeff Eakins estimated the district can save $10 million by moving away from peer evaluation of teachers.

Instead, Eakins told teachers Monday evening at Riverview High School, "we would redirect peer evaluators back to other roles," perhaps as teachers or hybrid roles that combine teaching and coaching.

Nothing has been decided yet, and the evaluation system is one of numerous bits of unfinished business as students and staff head toward a two-week vacation.

Eakins has yet to name "priority schools," a group of schools that will need additional resources because of issues such as poverty and lower performance.

The teachers' union, which represents 20,000 employees, does not have a contract even though the pay year began on July 1. An offer on the table allows teachers to receive their scheduled raises retroactive to July 1.

Classroom aides would get 6 percent raises. But they would not be retroactive; instead, they'd get bonuses of $250.

And the union wants more stipends and incentives for social services workers, whose jobs are more demanding with the district's new push to avoid suspending unruly students.

"We've been waiting our turn," psychologist Dwayne Renaker told the board Tuesday.

Also on Eakins' plate is the task of adapting the district's evaluation system as a seven-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation draws to a close. A key feature in the reform effort, which received national attention, was the peer observation system, which rates teachers according to a universal rubric. Those ratings enter into the teacher's final score, which affects pay and job security.

But Eakins, though insisting he is not abandoning the Gates reforms, has said consistently that new research supports a less punitive, "nonevaluative" approach.

What's more, he told the Riverview group on Monday, the current system of evaluations and mentors costs about $17 million a year — money that is needed for other expenditures, including psychological services.

While nothing has been decided, he described a scenario in which the peer evaluators would be reassigned to jobs that might include teaching, coaching or hybrids of the two. "So that alone will probably save the district about $10 million, and that $10 million will then be redirected back to supporting the district in other ways, he said."

In some cases, they could be paid from sources other than the general revenue budget — and that would help the district resolve its fund balance issue.

The board voted unanimously to hire the Gibson Consulting group after learning that the $818,000 will come from purchase card rebates, not tax dollars. In fact, Eakins said, he and the consultants have also identified between $500,000 and $750,000 that can be returned to the general fund, the main source for school operations. That money represents indirect costs of supporting grant-funded programs.

In other business Tuesday, the district:

• Adopted revised policies, including one that allows limited text and social media communication between teachers and students. Staff will be trained to avoid any situation that would compromise ethics or student privacy.

• Approved four more charter schools: Avant Garde Academy and Plato Academy in northwest Hillsborough; BridgePrep Academy, a Spanish-English school in Riverview; and the Sports Leadership Management Academy, which does not yet have a location.

• Appointed Kevin Martin as principal of Lithia Springs Elementary School.

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected] Follow @marlenesokol.

Comments
Sheriff: Pasco teacher filmed student undressing, arrested on voyeurism charge

Sheriff: Pasco teacher filmed student undressing, arrested on voyeurism charge

Deputies said Fivay High School teacher Thomas Kovack admitted to recording a 17-year-old student as she changed her shirt.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Politics, practicality, price: Across Florida, rural students put off by perceived weaknesses of higher education

Politics, practicality, price: Across Florida, rural students put off by perceived weaknesses of higher education

In rural enclaves, practical-minded students are losing faith in the value of college. Many see it as an outright corrosive force and are frustrated by its outsize cost and perceived uselessness.
Updated: 3 hours ago
DeVos releases sexual assault rules she hails as balancing rights of victims, accused

DeVos releases sexual assault rules she hails as balancing rights of victims, accused

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday released her long-awaited rewrite of rules governing campus sexual harassment and assault allegations, narrowing the cases schools must investigate and giving
Published: 11/16/18
Inside the newsroom: Tampa Bay Times project team takes a deep dive inside a notorious Florida death penalty case

Inside the newsroom: Tampa Bay Times project team takes a deep dive inside a notorious Florida death penalty case

A project team at the Tampa Bay Times explores the death penalty in Florida through a notorious 1975 murder case.
Published: 11/16/18
USF's new dorm in St. Petersburg will get a financial assist from the Tampa campus

USF's new dorm in St. Petersburg will get a financial assist from the Tampa campus

Construction on a long-planned student residence at USF St. Petersburg will start in February and be complete in 2020. It will have room for more than 900 students and a 400-seat dining hall.
Published: 11/16/18
Greco Middle School, three others in Hillsborough get new principals

Greco Middle School, three others in Hillsborough get new principals

TAMPA – In between speeches about Lee Elementary School and the debate to rename Lee, the Hillsborough County School Board on Thursday also approved 17 administrative assignments that included new leaders at four schools.Andrew Olson is being t...
Published: 11/16/18
Florida education news: School names, teacher pay, mental health services and more

Florida education news: School names, teacher pay, mental health services and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Published: 11/16/18
Lee is renamed Tampa Heights Elementary School

Lee is renamed Tampa Heights Elementary School

TAMPA — Even the vote to rename Lee Elementary School — a treasured institution that weathered a devastating fire and a year-long relocation — did not happen without twists and turns.Thursday's decision to call the school Tampa H...
Published: 11/15/18
Updated: 11/16/18
Years after the ribbon cutting, USF sorts out a funding mix-up with one of its buildings

Years after the ribbon cutting, USF sorts out a funding mix-up with one of its buildings

A state-ordered review of construction funding at Florida universities has uncovered a multimillion-dollar funding snag at the University of South Florida that officials there are not fully explaining.The mix-up involves the $21.7 million Dr. Kiran C...
Published: 11/15/18
Gradebook podcast: Recounting Florida – The Education Election Edition

Gradebook podcast: Recounting Florida – The Education Election Edition

A discussion on school board term limits, tax referendums and other issues from the November election.
Published: 11/15/18