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Pinellas school district employees losing faith in superintendent, school board

Teachers and other rank-and-file employees in the Pinellas County school district don't have much confidence in superintendent Julie Janssen or the School Board, according to a new district survey.

Released to board members Thursday, the survey shows that only 27 percent of teachers who responded agreed with the statement "I have confidence in the ability of the superintendent."

Forty-nine percent disagreed. The rest said they were "neutral."

For the School Board, the corresponding numbers were as follows: 31 percent agreed, 41 disagreed and the rest were neutral.

"Everywhere I go, everybody is in a bad mood," Janssen said.

She said she was disappointed but not surprised. She pointed to the timing of the survey, conducted in late spring, as the district was in the thick of budget cuts.

"I'm not making excuses," she said. "People aren't going to like me because I'm making those decisions that aren't popular. But if I don't make them, who's going to make them?"

Board member Terry Krassner said employee frustration has been stoked by external and internal factors.

On one hand, dwindling state funding and legislative mandates have demoralized teachers. On the other, a series of incidents has led teachers to criticize how the district makes decisions and communicates with the public.

"We have to get back to where everyone does have confidence in our decisions, and they know we're looking out" for them, Krassner said.

The district's annual "climate survey" is online and anonymous. Besides asking all 17,000 employees what they think of district leadership, it asks those at individual schools to rate students, parents and principals. It's widely viewed as a way to let employees weigh in frankly on workplace conditions. It also allows the district to better see which schools are humming along smoothly — and which ones are waving red flags.

All in all this year, 5,216 employees responded, a 30 percent response rate. Krassner chalked it up to paranoia, saying she's heard more than once that employees are afraid their e-mails are being monitored.

"I feel like there's a lot of fear in the district," she said. "I want the trust back."

Ron Matus can be reached at matus@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8873.

Survey results

Here are some other results from school-based instructional staff that responded to the Pinellas County School District's most recent climate survey:

• 57 percent of disagreed that "the way people are managed is consistent with our overall mission"; 24 percent agreed.

• 63 percent of them disagreed that "this organization is efficient and effective at making decisions"; 20 percent agreed.

• 69 percent agreed that "in this organization, high standards of performance are expected"; 18 percent disagreed.

• 56 percent disagreed that "there is good communication across all sections of this organization"; 28 percent agreed.

• 62 percent agreed that "I feel a sense of loyalty and commitment to this organization"; 21 percent disagreed.

• 57 percent agreed that "I am proud to tell people that I work for this organization"; 21 percent disagreed.

Pinellas school district employees losing faith in superintendent, school board 07/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 11:45pm]
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