Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas teachers union chief irritated that school hiring outpaces enrollment

Pinellas County's teachers are suffering in part because school district leaders have failed to adequately address nine years of declining enrollment, the head of the teachers union said Friday.

Kim Black, president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, said the district for too many years has allowed schools to hire at a rate that outpaces student need.

"If you can't even afford the people you already have, why are you hiring more?" Black said.

Top district leaders said this week that they're taking a hard look at staffing numbers, which indicate that there are too many employees in the local schools, even after state class-size laws are factored in.

A count of students on the 10th day of school on Sept. 2 showed 101,921 attending classes — an 11 percent loss of more than 12,000 students since 2003.

Over that same period, instructional staffing has increased 4 percent from about 7,793 positions to about 8,265, district figures show.

Deputy superintendent Jim Madden and the district's head of human resources both said Thursday that the increase cannot be completely attributed to a state law that began mandating smaller student-teacher ratios beginning in 2003.

But exactly how many teachers would fall into the category of "too many" isn't clear.

The district has created 1,012 teaching positions since 2003 in order to keep classes in compliance with the state class-size law, according to district spokeswoman Andrea Zahn. And the total number of instructional positions has gone up 472. But it's unclear where the district should be in terms of numbers once the enrollment decline is accounted for.

"I don't know that we've ever looked at exactly how many extra people we have," School Board chairwoman Carol Cook said Friday.

Assistant superintendent of human resources Ron Ciranna said his staff is reviewing the numbers school by school and could have a figure next week.

Teachers in the district are facing potential cuts to their insurance benefits this year and have experienced a drop in annual average income in the last four years.

Like all state employees, they must now contribute 3 percent of their pay to pension plans, due to a change in law.

All this stacks up to a lot of employees receiving less, said Black, which makes continued hiring all the less understandable.

The district did implement a hiring freeze this year, Ciranna said. But Black said she's not completely sure the freeze held in every school.

"I don't want people to be out of a job, obviously," Black said. "But I want the people who are in the job to be paid appropriately. And that's not happening."

Cook said the school district's trend of losing students has been "while I wouldn't say distressing, it's been bothersome.

"Bottom line," she said, "is we're going to do the best job we can for the students we have."

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at (727) 893-8707 or rcatalanello@sptimes.com.

Pinellas teachers union chief irritated that school hiring outpaces enrollment 09/09/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 10, 2011 12:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries

    Blogs

    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.