Monday, December 11, 2017
Education

Longleaf principal departs as Pasco schools play musical chairs

TRINITY — Arlene Bodden had a simple rule as principal of Longleaf Elementary School: No crying allowed.

"It applies to me leaving, too," said Bodden, who has led the school since it opened eight years ago.

To avoid tears, Bodden held off revealing her decision to retire in August, a year earlier than planned.

"I waited until my students were all gone, and then I waited until my staff was all gone. Then I made the call," she said. "I don't do goodbyes very well."

Bodden's surprise departure left room for yet another change in the Pasco school district administration that has seen significant turnover since superintendent Kurt Browning took office in November.

Browning has promoted four principals to district-level jobs, appointed new leaders in 20 percent of the schools and shuffled several department heads amid a reorganization. For the June 18 School Board meeting, the administration has reappointed most sitting administrators to their roles.

But additional changes are likely, assistant superintendent Amelia Larson said.

"We still have not interviewed for all the open positions," Larson said. "There will be more moves."

Five elementary schools have principal vacancies, and the district has a handful of top jobs including one learning community executive director spot. Larson expected that the people filling those slots will create additional shifts in the ranks.

For the time being, the latest round of changes proposed by the superintendent's office focuses on assistant principals.

Longtime Sunlake High assistant principal Deborah Lepley, who accused former principal Garry Walthall of discrimination, was not reappointed to any leadership post. District curriculum supervisor Lori Wiggins was named to a newly created position of eSchool assistant principal. And elementary guidance counselor supervisor Stacey Brazier was appointed to an assistant principal job at John Long Middle School.

Sunlake and Fivay high schools, both under scrutiny for their performance, will get two new assistant principals. And a handful of elementary assistant principals will swap schools.

"Assistant principals need different experiences," Larson said.

Larson said she hopes to convince Bodden not to leave just yet. She praised Bodden's ideas for A-rated Longleaf, particularly relating to an arts-centered curriculum, and wanted her to guide the concept forward.

"But I understand where she's coming from," Larson said.

Bodden, 58, has a retired husband, seven grandkids and an RV waiting to take her on travels around the country. "The motor is running," she said.

So after 36 years with Pasco schools, Bodden decided the time had come to think about other things in life than school.

"I'm one of those fortunate people who has been able to do what I was meant to do," she said. "Now it's time for us to do some playing while we're still young enough."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected], (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Comments
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey has learned all the tricks to get her kids out of bed and off to school every morning. But this year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every school day with a knot in her stomac...
Published: 12/08/17

University of Central Florida Greeks won’t hold social events, serve alcohol for 6 weeks this spring

ORLANDO — University of Central Florida fraternities and sororities won’t host social activities or any events with drinking for at least the first six weeks of the spring semester, up from the two-week ban on alcohol that has been in place in the pa...
Published: 12/08/17
Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Disturbed by stories about the rape of teens by supervisory staff, a pandemic of sometimes savage force, brutal beatdowns ordered by youth care workers and policies that permit the hiring of violent offenders, Miami-Dade’s state attorney wants to kno...
Published: 12/07/17
Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Hillsborough County’s public school teachers are horn-honking, voice-raising, sign-waving, foot-stomping mad, and I can’t blame them. They are paying for a problem they didn’t create. About one-third of the workforce was expecting to receive a $4,000...
Published: 12/07/17
In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

SPRING HILL — On a small wooden dock at the Cross Bar Ranch, Cynthia Brinker gingerly pokes through the trappings in her fishing net, plucking out a tiny creature to examine close up. "What the heck is this?" the Weightman Middle School studen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

BROOKSVILLE — For just a year and a half, Steve Crognale has been the principal at the Endeavor and Discovery Academies. But now, he’s been named the Hernando School District Principal of the Year for 2018. Endeavor serves students, most of them hig...
Published: 12/06/17
Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

TAMPA — The second Hillsborough County School Board meeting in less than a month took place Tuesday against a backdrop of honking car horns, cheering teachers and audience members moving through the room in shifts.Dressed in blue union-issued T-shirt...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey is skilled at calming first-day-of-school jitters. But this school year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every weekday with a knot in her stomach.It’s been there ever since th...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17
Hillsborough school district names Teacher of the Year finalists

Hillsborough school district names Teacher of the Year finalists

Finalists were announced Tuesday for Hillsborough County Teacher of the year and other honors.Winners will be announced at a banquet on Jan. 16.The finalists for teacher of the year are: Jennifer Jackson, seventh grade science, Stewart Middle; Alexa ...
Published: 12/05/17
High school start times: Could they be a talking point in the 2018 Pinellas election?

High school start times: Could they be a talking point in the 2018 Pinellas election?

It’s been years since the Pinellas County School Board addressed high school start times.But if the issue isn’t resolved in the next few months, it could fall to voters as they decide on who should fill four out of seven School Board seats up grabs i...
Published: 12/05/17