Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Education

Pasco school superintendent cuts two administrative jobs; board could ask for more

LAND O'LAKES — After cutting dozens more teaching and staff jobs earlier this month, Pasco School Board members made clear they expected to eliminate some administrative positions as well.

Superintendent Heather Fiorentino on Friday recommended getting rid of two, the director of human resources and a supervisor of exceptional student education.

The HR director position, which is vacant, will be merged into the employee relations director job. Joe Musselman, who holds the ESE supervisor spot, requested a transfer to an assistant principal job. His duties overseeing gifted education will be transferred to another supervisor.

Fiorentino said she hoped the board would be satisfied with the two-person reduction.

"They have to understand, we're at a breaking point," she said, noting that over five years the administration has shrunk by 28 people, or about 15 percent of the professional staff. "For us to continue to do the mandates, we are at a breaking point. There are some that are questioning whether these two are the straw to break the camel's back."

Board member Allen Altman said he had not seen all the details. But he had reviewed the superintendent's summary of the appointments.

"Obviously, I think we would want to cut more," Altman said, holding off on further comment until he had more time to explore the specifics.

There had been some suggestions that the district might consider eliminating or transferring some of the assistant principal positions at middle and high schools that have low enrollment. Some of those schools are smaller than elementary schools that have just one assistant principal.

Such a move did not come to pass.

Some school-based leaders have speculated that a shuffling might still be in the offing, though, as the appointment list does not include school assignments for any principals or assistant principals.

"We like to let them know they're flexible," said Renalia DuBose, assistant superintendent-administration. "We appoint administrators to a contract, not a place."

Two new names did appear on the principal list.

Vaughnette Chandler, previously assistant principal at Denham Oaks Elementary, is recommended as the principal for Double Branch Elementary. She would replace retiring Peggy Lewis.

Wendy Lane, previously assistant principal at Woodland Elementary, is recommended as principal for West Zephyrhills Elementary. She would take the place of retiring Emily Keene.

One appointment that could rattle some cages is the assignment of Amelia Van Name Larson, who has overseen the district's federally mandated Response to Intervention program, which aims to deal with student learning problems before they become too severe. Van Name Larson would become an assistant principal.

Fiorentino said Van Name Larson's district-level position had been for one year only. She described the move as a lateral transfer, with the goal of Van Name Larson leading a school to be a model for the district.

Van Name Larson, who has gained statewide attention for her work in RTI, said she learned of the transfer late Thursday. She called it a privilege to have worked with school-based educators and students in the endeavor.

"Much has been accomplished, but we have a long way to go," she said. "I look forward to my next challenge."

Altman was stunned by her move. He questioned why Fiorentino would want to displace someone with such a strong reputation, and said he would seek more explanations at Tuesday's board meeting.

"She's got people all over the state of Florida trying to hire her," he said of Van Name Larson. Several University of South Florida leaders "think she is one of the premiere, cutting-edge educators in the state of Florida."

The board is scheduled to review the appointments at its next meeting Tuesday evening.

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.

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