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Pinellas School Board poised to cut six top positions in reorganization

Long criticized for being top-heavy, Pinellas County school officials appear poised to cut six administrative positions as part of a huge reorganization headed for a School Board vote next week.

According to a document produced by the district late Wednesday, school superintendent John Stewart's planned cuts will save close to $568,000 in salary and benefits.

The positions on the chopping block include:

• The deputy superintendent post currently held by Jim Madden, who had already announced his Oct. 31 retirement.

• Chief operating officer of Pinellas Technical Education Centers, currently held by Dennis Jauch. If approved, his position is slated for elimination June 30.

• The manager of facilities, operations, safety and security position. Though currently held by Mike Pixley, administrators are recommending Pixley be transferred to another post with approximately the same salary.

• The director of middle school education spot currently held by Stephanie Joyner. This position could also be eliminated June 30.

• The director of facilities and operations post that was held by Leonard Krysko, who left April 3, according to the document.

• The director of government services position held by Steve Swartzel, who plans to retire May 31, 2013.

"Please understand this is not an exhaustive list," district spokeswoman Donna Winchester wrote in an email to the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday evening. "Additional positions may be eliminated, and the individuals filling those positions may or may not be called upon to fill other positions that are open at this time."

Though the district has been discussing a reorganization since February, Wednesday's accounting was the first time district leaders put a concrete dollar figure on the savings they expect to realize as a result of the reorganization.

Stewart and assistant superintendent of human resources Ron Ciranna have said they expected the savings to be in the $500,000 range, but as late as Tuesday — a week before the board vote — they told the Tampa Bay Times that they could not confirm exactly what positions were being slated for elimination.

In November, Stewart contracted with the Florida Association of District School Superintendents to evaluate the district's structure. Its report concluded that the district was top-heavy, slow-moving and characterized by a culture of confusion, competition and conflict.

In March, district leaders said that Pinellas would drop from having 121 top-level administrators to 61, taking the district from being the second most top-heavy among eight large Florida districts to the sixth. Much of that, however, was due to changes in job classifications.

Compared with the district's $1.3 billion budget, a half-million in savings may seem like a drop in the bucket, but board members and Stewart said they believe it will achieve an important goal.

"This proposed reorganization may make the district work better," board member Peggy O'Shea said. "You want that, too."

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at (727) 893-8707 or rcatalanello@tampabay.com.

Pinellas School Board poised to cut six top positions in reorganization 04/18/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 19, 2012 12:19am]
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