Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco School Board criticizes superintendent over communication issues

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco School Board members let loose Tuesday with angry criticism of the way superintendent Heather Fiorentino conducts business with the board.

They accused her of creating plans to reorganize the district central office without keeping them in the loop or asking them if they had any direction they'd like to see.

"The failure to communicate with the board on a consistent basis has been painfully obvious the past few months," board member Allen Altman said after the session, suggesting change is critical for the district's future success.

The board's ire boiled over during a workshop focusing on district-level leadership. It also happened just hours before Fiorentino, who is elected, was to hold her first re-election campaign fundraiser.

Board members, some of whom are linked to possible Fiorentino challengers, had come prepared to discuss the findings of a months-old report that indicated the district had severe management and morale problems, and how those might be repaired.

What they got was the outline of a five-year "transformation" plan based on months of study, along with comments from Fiorentino and her lieutenants that some of the facts in the initial report were inaccurate. Startled, board members expressed dismay that Fiorentino had embarked upon creating a plan while they were held off in discussing the original problem and offering possible solutions that they could support.

"The board didn't move on. The board hasn't even had an opportunity to discuss this," chairwoman Joanne Hurley said. "If you are setting sail on a five-year transitional timeline and you're leaving the board on the shoreline, then I would suggest … you may have rough seas ahead."

Altman took the analogy a step further.

If the administration doesn't deal with the problems highlighted in that report issued by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, he said, "the ship will sink" before it gets too far.

Board member Alison Crumbley, who also criticized Fiorentino's handling of a magnet school survey two weeks ago, noted that the FADSS report highlighted the need to improve communication because too often people in different areas or departments are left in "silos."

"This board doesn't want to be in a silo," Crumbley said.

Fiorentino protested that she had not "set sail" at all. Rather, she explained, the staff had begun investigating options to bring to the board for its discussion.

"We have been trying to build a ship to see if it's seaworthy," Fiorentino told the board. "What we are trying to do is get the pieces together. We are still gathering the materials."

Later on, she acknowledged that communication has not been her bright spot. That can be problematic, she added, particularly with such an active and involved School Board.

She said she would look into ways to better inform the board of critical district activities, perhaps with a weekly update. She insisted that she never intended to leave anyone in the dark.

"The important thing is that every board member is an important member of our team," Fiorentino said. "We realize that. We just need to call them more often, maybe spend a little more time individually with them."

Fiorentino made improved communication part of her 2008 re-election campaign. She has touted actions such as creating more public forums and staff meetings on key issues such as the budget as indications that she made headway.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at

Pasco School Board criticizes superintendent over communication issues 02/07/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 9:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. World's plastic waste could bury Manhattan 2 miles deep


    WASHINGTON — Industry has made more than 9.1 billion tons of plastic since 1950 and there's enough left over to bury Manhattan under more than 2 miles of trash, according to a new cradle-to-grave global study.

    Plastic trash is compacted into bales ready for further processing at the waste processing dump on the outskirts of Minsk, Belarus.
  2. Sen. John McCain's type of cancer did not slow Tampa woman


    TAMPA —When 35-year-old Beth Caldwell heard about Sen. John McCain's brain tumor this week, she hoped he would stay positive.

    That's what helped her, she said.

    Beth Caldwell, 35, and her sons Gavin, 10, and Triston, 7. Caldwell had surgery to remove an aggressive brain tumor three years ago. [Photo Courtesy of Beth Caldwell]
  3. A week later, the lengthy, costly rebuilding plan for the Pasco sinkhole begins

    Public Safety

    LAND O'LAKES — A week after a massive sinkhole opened in Pasco County, county officials have begun planning the long-term cleanup, which could take months and millions of dollars.

    A sinkhole in Land O'Lakes, Fla., is seen Wednesday, July 19, 2017. The sinkhole ?‘ already one of the largest in Pasco County in decades ?‘ measures about 235 feet in width and 50 feet in depth, with the potential to expand further.
  4. Dade City's Wild Things blocks PETA officials at gates for court-ordered site inspection


    Times Staff Writer

    DADE CITY — Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show.

    Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show. This comes four days after 19 Wild Things tigers arrived at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. A judge had granted an emergency injunction July 14, ordering Stearns not remove any tigers pending the upcoming PETA inspection. Photo from Facebook page of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma.
  5. St. Petersburg City Council approves $326 million sewage fix


    ST. PETERSBURG — Last week the City Council learned no criminal charges would result from the up to 200 million gallons of sewage St. Petersburg's sewer system released from …

    [LARA CERRI  |  Times]