Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Education

Pinellas Schools superintendent seeks a deputy, other new leaders

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Pinellas Schools chief Mike Grego intends to hire a new deputy and associate superintendent, and he wants to upgrade the administrative positions overseeing elementary, middle and high schools.

Grego called it a plan to put strong leaders directly in charge of key areas that will help students learn.

"How are our elementary schools doing? That's the ownership of that executive director," Grego said Tuesday during School Board work session.

The school district already has administrators who supervise elementary, middle and secondary education, but those positions would be called "executive directors." The associate superintendent would oversee "student and community support services."

"Our end goal is to build a world-class educational team," said Grego, who has been superintendent just over six months.

He told the board he would offset the cost of the new administrators by phasing out 13 other positions with pay and benefits totaling $893,000. Among those positions: turnaround officer, director of exceptional student education, executive director of pre K-12 core curriculum and managing officer of Medicaid.

Asked if his plan makes the administration more top-heavy, Grego said the overall reorganization is still in progress. But more important, he said, is the goal of improving student achievement. He said he previously worked at a school district with low administrative costs and low student achievement, and that wasn't a good model.

Grego said the current directors of elementary, middle and secondary education will be allowed to apply for the new executive director positions, and the positions will be opened to others as well. He said he does not expect any of the 13 to be laid off.

Grego said it is critical for him to be highly visible in the community, sometimes making two or more public appearances in a night. His deputy would assist with key administrative matters and serve as acting superintendent in his absence, he said. The deputy superintendent's salary would be a minimum of $100,740, plus about $13,000 in benefits.

Also Tuesday, Grego discussed his plans to seek district-wide accreditation designed to make sure all employees are working together to improve learning.

School Board members sounded positive about the plan but acknowledged it presents a challenge: convincing administrators that the lengthy process is a real help and not just a lot of paperwork.

"I see this being very, very beneficial," board chairwoman Carol Cook said. But if it feels like a rehash to employees, "their heart and soul is not going to be in it."

Under the plan, school administrators would gather later this month to begin training for the process and get an initial visit from the accrediting organization in September, said Mary Beth Corace, director of strategic planning and policy.

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