Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Education

Pinellas schools chief tells board to give him time to soak it all in

LARGO — It's not surprising that Pinellas School Board members brainstormed dozens of ideas last week for new superintendent Mike Grego to get right to work on.

But it was interesting so see Grego ask board members — ever so politely — to back off. At least for a little while.

It went like this: At a work session Tuesday afternoon, board members presented many big issues Grego will need to deal with: student achievement, student safety, morale, depth of leadership, diversity, parental choice and others.

Board members eagerly suggested some new ways Grego could update them on his progress — a regular report on budget issues, another one on underperforming schools, and so on.

That's where Grego gingerly stepped in. "I want to say this with all due respect and politeness: You have to have a level of trust, for just a little while."

He said he understands that there are many challenges and doesn't know all the answers to them. "But I need time, a little bit of time."

As an example, he said he recently met with some school officials to discuss middle school reform. But as he looked over the information they presented him, "out of the two or three pages, maybe one thing I would consider quote-unquote reform."

That shows that he and his staff need a little time to work together, to understand his expectations and the overall goals, he said, because "our performance in middle school is tremendously dragging behind other grade levels."

He said he fully understands why board members want those regular reports and presentations, and he said they deserve them, but the time spent producing them "only slows down the progress of the district."

"I'm not into giving you more PowerPoints and more discussions. I'd rather just report the results" about how things are getting better, he said.

His comments were well received by board members, who said they would allow him some time, and added that they were excited to have him on board.

Board chairwoman Robin Wikle got a laugh by asking: "How much time do you need?"

"Forty-eight hours," Grego deadpanned.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8232.

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