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Hernando School Board approves reorganization plan

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School Board this week gave superintendent Lori Romano the go-ahead to reorganize the district, a move she said is designed to improve efficiency and better align it to its objectives.

One big thing the board didn't do in giving it their blessing: Commit to funding any of the new requested positions.

The plan, which appeared before board members for the first time at Tuesday's workshop, was approved later that evening by a 4-1 vote. School Board member Cynthia Moore was the lone dissenter.

The plan substantially alters the look of the district, moving or merging departments, changing staff titles and creating a host of new positions. As a result, the district would lose two director-level positions — one in student services and one in facilities — for a savings of roughly $175,000.

Romano proposed using the savings to update eight positions at a total cost of about $58,000.

The remaining money — about $117,000 — can be used to help cover some 20 new positions, which range from a new investigator to a communication and PR coordinator. The new posts that aren't funded will remain vacant until the district finds money to pay for them.

"As funding comes, so do the positions," said School Board member Matt Foreman. "It's creating the structure — you fill it in over time if finances improve. If that doesn't occur… it essentially maintains status quo."

It would cost about $1.1 million to fund all of the new positions, plus an additional $160,000 for health insurance.

Hernando officials have long argued the district staff is undersized compared with others of similar size, making it difficult to give adequate support.

"I agree with the structure," said School Board member Dianne Bonfield. "I think it's very sensible and logical and well thought out."

Board members Moore and John Sweeney had more questions about the plan at Tuesday's workshop. While Sweeney voted for it, he said he would have liked to have seen more information.

Moore felt the same way.

"Until I get some more information, some job descriptions — then I can't vote for it," she said Tuesday night. "The plan overall was okay."

In the proposed structure, Romano renames the assistant superintendent positions and gives them direct supervision of different departments. Unlike the current organization, one assistant superintendent would be in charge of all of the district's operations — everything from human resources to transportation to maintenance to investigations. The other will be in charge of all of the district's academic services.

Many departments would also merge, with the proposal calling for the elimination of stand-alone departments for technology, maintenance, facilities, exceptional student education and student services.

Sweeney liked the merger of technology and teaching.

"The day that we could separate technology from teaching and learning is long gone," he said.

Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes.

Hernando School Board approves reorganization plan 03/13/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 13, 2014 7:42pm]
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