BROOKSVILLE — After more than three decades with the Hernando County School District, assistant superintendent Ken Pritz faces a tough choice for the upcoming school year:
Become the warehouse manager and take a large pay cut — or be let go.
In a letter dated May 30, superintendent Lori Romano informed him he will officially become the manager of warehouse and property control at the school distribution center starting July 1, which is the start of the 2014-15 fiscal year. The salary, based on the set salary schedule, is $61,453.20.
As the district's superintendent overseeing teaching and learning this year, he made $101,725.
"In the event you choose not to accept the position offered to you, it will result in a nonrenewal of your annual contract," Romano wrote.
Pritz, like other employees serving on annual contracts, can be terminated at the end of the contract without cause.
The development is not surprising, given the events of this school year.
In December, Romano relieved Pritz of his responsibilities for guiding instruction and moved him to the distribution center. While he changed jobs, he maintained his title and salary.
Pritz, an employee of 34 years, said he was shocked and said the decision came out of the blue. Romano said that she was moving him because it played to his strengths and the district needed experience in that area. She also said that teaching and learning was not an area of strength for him.
"It has become clear that your actions have been counterproductive to the current direction of the school district," she wrote in a brief memo. "Therefore, effective immediately, you will be physically housed at the plant operation site of the school district and will fulfill the job responsibilities of manager of the warehouse and purchasing."
Pritz, 56, has contested the reassignment, arguing that it was a breach of contract. Attorney Bruce Snow, who is representing Pritz, said his client's contract prohibits reassignment to a new position with different duties.
Snow said the superintendent's reassignment decision was disappointing. Romano said she has been advised not to comment on the letter.
In a response letter dated Thursday, Snow argues that the district told Pritz his contract allowed him to be transferred into the warehouse position because it was similar to the duties he held as assistant superintendent. The reduction in salary, however, indicates that the responsibilities were quite different, he said.
Snow also said that Pritz filed a complaint under the state's Whistle-blower's Act in December, shortly after he was moved. The act prohibits an agency from taking any adverse personnel action against an employee for disclosing information, Snow wrote.
"The gross disparity in salary to perform the same job duties next year as Mr. Pritz has been performing this year under the current contract speaks volumes," he wrote.
Pritz is requesting that he be placed in the same position with the same salary.
Danny Valentine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes.