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Gulf High principal's transfer remains a mystery

LAND O'LAKES — The reasons behind veteran Gulf High principal Tom Imerson's transfer remained a mystery Tuesday, even as the School Board approved the move.

Only superintendent Heather Fiorentino seemed to know exactly what she has in store for Imerson, who will become a "principal on assignment" ­— a position that she has yet to define even for Imerson himself.

"The superintendent hasn't talked to me about the position" except in passing, said Imerson, 62, who has led Gulf High since 2002.

Rumors have swirled for months that Fiorentino planned to oust Imerson over some type of mismanagement. Two teachers have filed grievances against him in recent months.

"That was one of my concerns, that I was being moved because I had done something wrong," Imerson, a 22-year Pasco school administrator, acknowledged after the board vote. "That has not come up. … I did nothing wrong."

Fiorentino supported that viewpoint, saying several principals have complaints filed against them, and she "can't stop rumors."

She insisted that her primary goal is to "make sure I've got the right people in the right seats on the bus." Imerson did not apply for a new job. Fiorentino asked that he accept a move.

At least three other moves are in the works, maybe more, she said, adding that she would not tell anyone — including Imerson — what his role will be until all the pieces are in place.

School Board members, who also have received only limited information about Fiorentino's reorganization plans, raised a handful of questions about the changes during their meeting Tuesday. Board member Allen Altman said he wanted assurances that he wasn't voting to create new positions within the district administration by supporting Imerson's appointment to an ill-defined job.

Fiorentino answered that the transfer would not affect the budget. Imerson will continue to earn his $96,206.60 annual salary, and he will replace someone who is leaving the district.

"We are kind of shifting a few positions around in the district," she said, also noting that Pasco County's administrative expenses per student are among the lowest in the state.

One of the leadership shifts puts assistant superintendent for elementary schools Ruth Reilly into the district's second-in-command position as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. She replaces Sandy Ramos, who is retiring. Another places Bayonet Point Middle School principal Steve Knobl in the principal's office at Gulf High.

The School Board approved both positions Tuesday.

Knobl's transfer, which takes effect June 9, already has raised concerns at Bayonet Point Middle, board chairwoman Kathryn Starkey said.

That school has had six principals in seven years, she noted, and teachers are "feeling low" about the lack of continuity.

"We are aware of the issues at Bayonet Point, and we will be looking out for them," Starkey said.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at

>>Fast facts

School Board action

The Pasco School Board met Tuesday and took the following action:

• Agreed to close district services on Fridays in July, with the exception of a handful of programs including pre-K, PLACE and human resources. The cost-cutting measure is expected to save about $90,000.

• Learned that the district has received a state grant to build affordable housing for school employees.

• Heard that all written arguments in the Deerwood Academy charter school lawsuit against the district have been submitted, and the case is now with the judge for a decision.

Gulf High principal's transfer remains a mystery 05/06/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 3:20pm]
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