Pinellas school district wants to examine whether it's top heavy

So, you want to know whether the Pinellas County School District administration is bloated.

Join the club.

The School Board on Tuesday agreed during a workshop to move forward with two district audits that should address just that. One will look at administrative costs; the other, at top level organization.

Interim superintendent John Stewart told board members that he wants to spend $20,000 out of the superintendent's discretionary fund to pay for a team of people to analyze the district's organization and management to determine if the structure is as efficient as it should be.

"I consider it money well spent," Stewart said after a board workshop.

In addition, next month the board will vote on whether to solicit proposals from experts willing to look at the district's administrative staffing and costs and how they compare with others of comparable size.

"Our objective is transparency and a more effective and efficient operation for our district," board member Robin Wikle said. "I'm excited."

The board did not say how much it expects to spend for the proposed performance audit. Board member Linda Lerner said the board was advised to see what bidders propose.

Pinellas County has almost 102,000 students, 17,000 employees and a 2011-12 budget of $1.3 billion.

The organizational audit that Stewart is pursuing would likely be finished in January or February. It would be performed by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. The entire project, Stewart said, costs $125,000, but the association offered to cover $105,000.

Several board members said Tuesday it sounded like a good complement to the financial audit, which would likely take place over two months ending in late March.

"This should give us a really clear picture of where we are as an organization," said Wikle.

But board member Terry Krassner said after the meeting that she'd like to see the results of the FADSS study before she's certain the financial audit is necessary. She's particularly interested in seeing what the organizational review shows in terms of how many teachers are on "special assignment" at the district offices instead of in the classroom.

Pinellas school district wants to examine whether it's top heavy 10/18/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 1:05am]

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