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Pasco School Board wants to move quick on cuts

LAND O'LAKES — Facing additional budget cuts of more than $10-million, Pasco schools superintendent Heather Fiorentino asked the School Board to have a special workshop on finances on Dec. 16.

Board members didn't want to wait put it off long.

"I'd like to do it sooner than that," vice chairman Allen Altman said. "I'd rather do it than wait."

Newly sworn board member Joanne Hurley agreed, saying she wants to get up to speed with the district's financial needs as soon as possible.

After discussing its meeting schedule, the board decided to have the session on Dec. 1.

Money was on the minds of district employees who spoke to the board, as well.

Land O'Lakes High School teacher Pat Connolly berated the board for having spent money on a slick color brochure advertising the district at a time when it has said it cannot afford "what's really important."

Jim Ciadella, lead negotiator for the district's teachers, acknowledged that the state has been the source of much of the financial problem. Still, he said, the United School Employees of Pasco want to work with the board to find solutions that can help trim spending and pay employees their step increases based on years of service.

"We still believe there's a way and hope there's a way to look at step increases for people at this very difficult time," Ciadella said.

Support personnel negotiator Robert Benjamin told the board that he looked forward to improved communication and team work as Fiorentino has promised.

In other business, the board named Frank Parker as its chairman and Allen Altman as its vice chairman.

The board also learned that the Athenian Academy charter school had won approval for its charter from the Florida Schools of Excellence Commission, an alternative state-level chartering organization. It remains unclear whether the school's local board supported the move, which its management company pursued.

District officials said they did not know how they would proceed with the Athenian Academy's pending contract renewal.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.

Pasco School Board wants to move quick on cuts 11/18/08 [Last modified: Sunday, November 23, 2008 7:41am]
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