Saturday, January 20, 2018
Education

Hernando County School Board negotiates with law firm for contract

BROOKSVILLE — After months of consideration, the Hernando County School Board is finally on the verge of hiring new legal counsel.

A unanimous board agreed Tuesday to negotiate with the Pasco County firm of McClain, Alfonso, Meeker & Dunn. The firm has provided legal services to the district on a contract basis since board attorney Paul Carland left last spring to take a job with the Broward school district.

"We've received good service from the Alfonso firm," board member John Sweeney said. "They're like a one-stop shop."

The McClain firm comes with a proven track record, having served as general counsel for the Pasco School Board since 1972 and for the Pasco County clerk of circuit court for more than two decades.

The unanimity was not without reluctance on the part of two board members, though.

The board had solicited applications for both in-house and contract services and narrowed the field to three finalists. The McClain firm offered only outside contract services, as did Denise Lyn, an Inverness attorney with her own practice. Richard Withers of Apopka initially applied for both, but when the board asked all three finalists to provide a proposal, Withers only sought an in-house position.

Board member Dianne Bonfield said she preferred to have an in-house attorney who would be easily accessible to the staff. Superintendent Bryan Blavatt said there have been no problems operating with outside counsel.

Vice Chairman Matt Foreman said he had a preferred applicant, but wanted to enter negotiations with all three finalists to use their counteroffers as leverage to get the best deal.

To do otherwise, Foreman said, "is foolish financially."

But that strategy is based on the premise that the finalists can offer roughly the same level of service, board member James Yant said.

"In my mind, there's a firm that stands out," Yant said.

After Yant, Sweeney and Chairwoman Cynthia Moore indicated a desire to negotiate with the McClain firm, Foreman and Bonfield joined the majority.

The firm has proposed a monthly retainer of $4,950 for 30 hours of attorney time. Beyond 30 hours, the district would pay $165 per hour.

Lyn sought an hourly rate of $160 for the first 15 hours per month and $170 per hour beyond that. She wanted to be paid $175 per hour for litigation services.

Withers had asked for an annual salary of $110,000, about the same amount Carland had been paid, plus health and retirement benefits.

As chairwoman, Moore will lead the negotiations.

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or [email protected]

Comments
USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

ST. PETERSBURG — Holding a piece of computer paper and a microphone, the leader of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg began a Friday afternoon forum by repeating the USF administration’s new mantra.He reassured the crowd before him that t...
Published: 01/19/18

Crews Lake thespians overcome the odds

SPRING HILL — It’s 8:30 a.m. — "homeroom" period in school speak — when kids in the Crews Lake Middle School drama club file into an empty chorus room to begin rehearsing under the direction of language arts teacher Kristen Sykora. There’s only 25 m...
Published: 01/19/18
Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins on Friday announced the first in a series of belt-tightening moves that include the elimination of three six-figure positions.Jobs now held by Wynne Tye and Larry Sykes will no longer exis...
Published: 01/19/18
Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

The Florida Department of Health has reported a sharp increase in flu activity in the last several weeks, prompting area schools to send out letters warning parents about the virus. At least two districts, however, say that flu activity in their scho...
Published: 01/19/18

More than 400 apply to Pasco technical high school

School choice for 2018-19 is in full swing, and district officials said they’ve been pleased with the interest they’ve seen so far.The window for applying to the district’s magnet schools closed Jan. 12, except for applications for the new Wendell Kr...
Published: 01/18/18
Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

"On Nov. 3, 2017, the Tallahassee Police Department responded to 1012 Buena Vista Drive … in reference to a death investigation."So begins a charging document in the case of Andrew Coffey, the 20-year-old Florida State University student who was foun...
Published: 01/18/18
In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In the state capitol on Wednesday, lawmakers breezed through the bullet points of a higher education bill. They skimmed past a hot-button proposal to consolidate the University of South Florida System into a single university without a peep of pushba...
Published: 01/18/18
Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

TAMPA — They were hoping to receive between $15 million and $17 million in scheduled pay raises. But the Hillsborough County school district says it can’t afford to give its teachers anywhere near that much, while the teachers say they deserve nothin...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18
Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

NEW PORT RICHEY — At age 28, things were really shaping up for Joel Santos-Gonzalez. Fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher, he had just completed his third year at Gulf Middle School."I always liked to talk to people on an intellectual ...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18
In Pinellas and beyond, deadlines for school choice are closing in

In Pinellas and beyond, deadlines for school choice are closing in

It’s decision time in Pinellas County and other local school districts as several school choice deadlines are upon us.For Pinellas families who want to apply for a magnet, fundamental or high school career program for the 2018-19 school year, the dea...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18