BROOKSVILLE — Does Wayne Alexander have too much on his plate?
In one way or another, four out of five members of the Hernando County School Board said as much Tuesday, suggesting that their superintendent could use a lieutenant to help oversee the 23,000-student district.
The occasion was the board's review of Alexander's sweeping proposal to reorganize the district for next fall. That plan would shift a third of the district's principals to new schools, create a new layer of mid-level curriculum staff to support school reforms, and save nearly $400,000 by cutting some senior-level positions.
Those changes also bring the potential for upheaval and distraction from Alexander's key task of representing the district to the public, said board member Pat Fagan.
"If you don't have that buy-in, there will be someone out there who will do everything they can to make things difficult," he said, arguing forcefully to use some of the savings for the new position. "I think you need a second person underneath you."
Alexander himself saw the need for such a position when he arrived in the district from Connecticut last August. But funding for it was cut during teacher salary negotiations last fall.
Several board members spotted what they thought might be a Trojan horse of sorts in the new reorganization plan.
To them, a proposed "executive director of special programs and operations" position looked just like an assistant superintendent, except at a lower, $90,000 pay grade. The job would oversee not only facilities, construction, maintenance and transportation, but vast swathes of curriculum and academic programs.
Board members Dianne Bonfield and Jim Malcolm said they couldn't support such a sprawling job description.
"It sounds to me like the job description for an assistant superintendent," Bonfield said.
Members Sandra Nicholson and John Sweeney joined Bonfield and Fagan in saying they would support an assistant superintendent role, if necessary.
Alexander said he could do without the help in order to economize, unless the board insisted.
"The attempt was to (keep the central office) as thin and slim as we are," he said referring to tight budget times ahead.
And board member Jim Malcolm said those tightening budgets might make it hard for Alexander to sell the public on more senior management.
"I think you recognize this is not the time to be adding positions at the top of your pyramid," he said.
Alexander said he would revise his job description proposals and return them to the board for a future vote.
Tom Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (352) 848-1431.