BROOKSVILLE — Superintendent Bryan Blavatt now officially has permission to reorganize the district office, but the vote was closer than expected.
A divided School Board on Tuesday evening approved job descriptions for the reorganization, including the addition of a second assistant who would be paid a maximum of about $96,000 and an additional $26,000 for benefits.
It was Blavatt's fourth attempt in two years to change the structure of the district office to his liking. After a previous attempt, a frustrated Blavatt criticized the board for what he saw as micromanaging and questioned if he was the right person to run the district.
This time, vice chairman Matt Foreman voted no along with board member James Yant.
Blavatt told board members that the overall plan would save nearly $24,000, in part by eliminating two vacant positions — a maintenance personnel specialist and a purchasing assistant.
The rest of the savings would be a result of paying lower salaries to new hires who will replace veteran employees retiring from the positions of transportation director and Weeki Wachee High School principal, and by moving a lower-paid teacher into Weeki Wachee's vacant assistant principal's position.
At last month's workshop, Foreman expressed tentative support but told Blavatt he was "underwhelmed" by the savings. He went a step further Tuesday.
"I don't think the cost savings are entirely real," Foreman said before the vote. "That's not to say you're fabricating them, but some of these positions haven't been filled in a long time."
The plan will result in savings, Blavatt replied, by shifting some unallocated resources to provide more oversight in a district that ranks near the bottom in per-student administrative spending. Blavatt noted that the new performance evaluation process for school principals will require an assistant to spend a lot time in the schools.
"This is kind of one of those leap of faith things where the CEO of the organization is saying to his board of directors, this is what I would like to see in order to make the organization efficient," Blavatt said.
Yant reiterated his opposition to the addition of a top-level administrator during uncertain financial times.
Board member John Sweeney supported the plan. Chairwoman Cynthia Moore and member Dianne Bonfield joined him in the majority.
Currently, assistant superintendent Sonya Jackson oversees most of the departments in the district.
As part of the new structure, one assistant superintendent will oversee a division of teaching and learning that includes the schools and principals, instructional services, the technology and Hernando Instructional Television department, and adult and community education.
The other assistant will lead a division of student support services, including exceptional student education, transportation, facilities, maintenance, and safety and security.
The new assistant position requires a master's degree, with a doctorate preferred. The job description had also listed a state certification in educational leadership as preferred, but board members said they wanted it to be required.
Blavatt hopes to have the position filled by early summer.
Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.