Pinellas teachers' morale low, survey shows

Pinellas County School Board members on Tuesday discussed the district's annual "climate survey" and noted two things: teachers are worried about financial issues and they're concerned about some of the principals leading them.

The survey results showed fewer teachers think they work well with administrators: 67 percent, a 4 percent drop from last year.

And only 32 percent of employees say 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.

Board members attributed the low morale to budget cuts.

"Much of what we're hearing is we're in a financial crisis right now," superintendent Julie Janssen told board members. The district has frozen teacher pay, closed some schools and consolidated others and some teachers have had to increase the number of classes they teach.

The annual survey included responses from 7,212 school-based employees, 74 percent of whom were classroom teachers.

Board members said comments about administrators should give the superintendent more information about hiring decisions.

"There are some people that need to realize that the way you deal with people just won't work in our district," said board member Linda Lerner.

Janssen said some principals might benefit from additional training or a move to a new school.

"We may have some talented people, but perhaps they're not in the right places," she said.

But board member Robin Wikle worried that some bad principals are just being shuffled from school to school.

"How long do we let these leaders that are not doing a good job stay in place?" she said.

Board members praised the work of several principals and suggested they might help struggling colleagues.

"We need to have some of our positive principals do some mentoring," Lerner said.

Hired last September, Janssen received a 52 percent approval rating in the survey, compared with the 26 percent approval former superintendent Clayton Wilcox received just before he left.

Board chairwoman Peggy O'Shea praised Janssen's work so far but said next year's results would better reflect her performance.

"I think teachers know her better because she was a principal," O'Shea said.

Pinellas teachers' morale low, survey shows 08/18/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 5:34pm]

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