Thursday, January 18, 2018
Education

Pasco media specialists gear up for job showdown Tuesday

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County school media specialists and their supporters plan to pack the district's School Board meeting on Tuesday in hopes of stopping a proposal to eliminate all their jobs.

They thought they had more time to prepare their arguments. But after learning that the board could decide their fate next week, they're stepping into high gear.

Their desire: to get the deletion of their jobs stripped from the staff allocation formula coming to the board.

"That's our goal, so we can continue to educate them about the importance of our roles in the schools," Deer Park Elementary media specialist Kristi Theurer said. "We feel the board is taking this seriously."

Staffing allocation formulas are pages of details about how many employees are assigned to schools based on numbers of students and related factors. As matters of public business, they usually generate little attention. The Pasco district administration put the item on the board's consent agenda, where noncontroversial items go.

Voting on the allocations "is a formality," district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said. And she noted the staffing decisions could still change at a later point.

When it comes to planning a school district's operations, though, the allocations drive the budget. Once a school board approves them, the superintendent and staff use the formulas to set class schedules and to make employment decisions.

As Cobbe put it, "We have to do allocations so the schools can plan for the people who are being displaced."

That's the media specialists' fear: The formulas have their job titles crossed off, eliminating about 50 to 60 positions.

They had expected a decision later in the year.

"This issue will only go to the School Board in the form of a budget recommendation that I will make later in the summer," superintendent Kurt Browning told one employee via email in March.

He did not refer to the allocations. But the timelines prepared by his office around the same time indicated that allocations would be finalized the week of April 15 so that involuntary transfers could begin soon after.

Board members said the superintendent should not expect a rubber stamp from them, regardless of time frames.

"Our responsibility is to pull that out of the consent agenda" for discussion, said board vice chairwoman Alison Crumbley, who added that she lacked information to make a decision. "You can't just go, 'Oh. Okay.' "

Chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong said Browning should present details during a budget workshop before Tuesday's meeting. If the board is uncomfortable with the plan, she said, it need not act.

"Even though it's on the agenda it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be decided," Armstrong said.

Board member Steve Luikart said he aims to find an alternative way to save $5 million.

"These people play a very valuable role," Luikart said. "I am looking at ways to save those roles. … I'm not in favor of taking instructional people out of the schools."

Browning has proposed creating 30 enhanced media specialist roles to serve regions of schools, focusing on teacher training.

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

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...
Updated: 5 hours ago
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...
Updated: 2 hours ago
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 ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
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...
Updated: 9 hours ago
For FSU fraternity, a wild night turned tragic

For FSU fraternity, a wild night turned tragic

The night of initiation was the most that the brothers of Florida State University’s Pi Kappa Phi chapter said they had ever seen their pledge class drink.That was the plan, court records said: Pledges would arrive at the fraternity house Nov. 2 and ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
9 face hazing charges in death of Florida State fraternity pledge

9 face hazing charges in death of Florida State fraternity pledge

TALLAHASSEE — The death of a fraternity pledge from alcohol poisoning has led to hazing charges against nine Florida State University students.State attorney Jack Campbell filed charges on Wednesday in Leon County Court.All nine will be charged with ...
Published: 01/17/18
From the archive: USF St. Petersburg’s long journey to autonomy

From the archive: USF St. Petersburg’s long journey to autonomy

As the Florida Legislature considers undoing the current governance of the University of South Florida by folding the three branches of its system into one entity, here is a look at some Times coverage of the long-running struggle for independence at...
Published: 01/17/18
How a small campus grew into an independent USF St. Petersburg

How a small campus grew into an independent USF St. Petersburg

Just a satellite campus many decades ago, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg has managed to carve out considerable autonomy within the arms of the USF System. But a bill moving through the state House of Representatives could undo its sep...
Published: 01/17/18