Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando School Board, superintendent Bryan Blavatt can learn from recent run-ins

Bryan Blavatt may be the most experienced and knowledgeable school superintendent Hernando County has ever had.

We've seen far too much turnover in that job over the years, and even more in the revolving door known as the county administrator's office.

It's taught us that stability itself is a worthy goal, and that, on the flip side, instability is bad — that a change in government leadership almost always means at least a short step back.

That's even more true now, in this dire economy, when one of the superintendent's biggest jobs is recommending cuts. To do this wisely, you have to know the district. To know the district, you have to stick around awhile.

This is all to concede one point — that we don't want to lose Blavatt. Those of us who remember his predecessor in fact might even feel like grabbing his ankles and begging him to stay. (I did say change is almost always a setback.)

While we're at it, we might as well concede another point — that there seems to be a good deal of truth in what Blavatt said last week about the School Board, which, in case you missed it, he called "the most dysfunctional, nonproductive, counterproductive group of individuals I've ever seen in 40 years."

This board meddles too much in personnel decisions and tends to backpedal on agreed-upon policies. It doesn't seem to get it that Blavatt's frustration is real and that if this forces him out it will be a real blow to the schools. Remember, he blasted the board last week only after it had rejected his third plan to reorganize the district office.

This board is a bunch, by the way, that clearly misses the statesmanship of former member Pat Fagan, who was basically forced to resign when the County Commission laid him off from his other job, running the county's parks. So this decision, it turns out, was not only bad for the county, but also bad for the schools.

Enough about the commissioners, though, because this is not about them, but about Blavatt and his dispute with the School Board. And let's recognize that it is not all the board's fault.

When Blavatt, who came out of retirement to take this job, reminds them that he really doesn't need the job, as he has several times …

When he tells them they need to let him do the work they hired him to do, which he's done repeatedly …

And especially when he says that if they don't do this, they might as well fire him, which he did last week. …

Well, then, he sounds a little like a basketball star complaining about not getting enough touches or even like a kid who says he's going to take his ball and go home.

Because there's a certain level of immaturity at work here. Blavatt has been known to show his disagreement with board members by rolling his eyes. He says he doesn't have a good poker face and, as refreshing as his honesty is, it would help if he developed a better one.

He also said he doesn't mind the level of openness in Florida government — that it's not much different than in Kentucky and Maryland, where he previously worked. Okay, but he also gives the impression of a leader who isn't used to getting questions, and maybe he has to learn to accept more of them.

Are they always going to be thoughtful and well-informed?

No. Because if it's true that Blavatt was hired with the understanding that the board would give him the freedom to accomplish his goals, it's also true that Blavatt knew he wasn't going to be dealing with a bunch of Henry Clays and Daniel Websters.

School Board membership is more or less an entry-level job in politics, usually filled by people who want to do good, but who may not know how best to go about it. Dealing with that is part of the superintendent's job description.

The board has to work on its relationship with Blavatt, respect that he knows what he's doing and that, in fact, he probably knows best. He, maybe, needs to realize he doesn't know it all.

Hernando School Board, superintendent Bryan Blavatt can learn from recent run-ins 07/05/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 8:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Why are so few Tampa Bay houses for sale? They're being rented

    Real Estate

    Oreste Mesa Jr. owns a modest 40-year-old house in West Tampa just off MacDill Avenue. It's an area where many homeowners are hearing the siren song of builders and cashing out while the market is strong.

    Attorney David Eaton poses in front of his rental home at 899 72nd Ave. North. in St. Petersburg. He's among a growing number of property owners who see more value in renting out unused homes than selling them. 
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. In a word, Hernando school leaders say, first day was 'smooth'

    K12

    Over and over on Monday, school district leaders used the same word to describe the unfolding of the first day of school in Hernando County.

    "Smooth."

    Third-graders Teagan Ferguson, left, and Brianna DeLaine deliver attendance figures to the office at J.D. Floyd Elementary School on Monday. Superintendent Lori Romano and other district administrators toured a handful of schools and classrooms throughout the day,
  3. Looking Back: Diana, America's Princess

    Celebrities

    The Washington Post, in her obituary, called her "the most photographed woman in the world." She was loved in England for saying, after her divorce from Prince Charles, "I'd like to be a queen of people's hearts." Americans loved her for her work with charitable causes supporting victims of AIDS and landmines. Aug. 31 …

    Prince Charles and Princess Diana on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on their wedding day.

(AP Photo)
  4. Rays morning after: 5 mistakes that led to loss to Blue Jays

    Blogs

    We've already documented elsewhere what the Rays didn't do, how they failed to take advantage of a prime opportunity to win Wednesday's game, getting just one run after loading the bases in the seventh with one out and three of …

    Jake Faria make too many mistakes, the failure to execute costing him repeatedly.
  5. Unborn baby dies, two critically injured in Largo crash

    Accidents

    LARGO — Two people were critically injured and an unborn baby was killed in a crash that shut down an intersection on Ulmerton Road late Wednesday night, the Florida Highway Patrol said.