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Pinellas school superintendent gets thumbs up from 52 percent in survey

Less than a year into the job, Pinellas superintendent Julie Janssen is getting high marks from a bare majority of district employees but poor ratings from only a few.

Fifty-two percent say she's providing strong leadership while 14 percent say she's not, according to the district's latest annual "climate survey," posted this week. The rest say they're neutral.

Janssen said the results are "not good enough."

"I have to see what improvement I can make," she said. "You have to take public opinion to heart and say here are things I can work on and here are things I can't."

The survey results were released this week. The School Board will review them at their Aug. 18 workshop. A total of 7,212 school-based employees responded; 74 percent were classroom teachers.

Hired in September, Janssen still benefits from the glow of a new leader's honeymoon. And comparisons to former superintendent Clayton Wilcox — who had 26 percent approval in 2008 — don't hurt..

On the other hand, Janssen's ratings are taking repeated hits from decisions tied to state cuts in education spending. Under her watch, Pinellas froze teacher pay, closed six schools and consolidated four others. It also sparked a bitter backlash by forcing middle school teachers to spend more time in classrooms.

"People feel good about her," said Marshall Ogletree, executive director of the Pinellas teachers union. "At the same time, there is still a high level of frustration and morale is not great in terms of the fiscal issues and salaries."

In other survey results:

• 38 percent said the School Board is providing quality leadership, up from 30 percent last year

• 32 percent said morale has improved extensively or very extensively at their schools, compared to 31 percent who said somewhat and 37 percent who said not at all

• 67 percent said teachers and administrators work well at their school, down from 71 percent last year

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

Pinellas school superintendent gets thumbs up from 52 percent in survey 07/17/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 17, 2009 12:09am]

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