Thursday, November 23, 2017
Editorials

Pinellas School District must get best bang for every buck

RECOMMENDED READING


The disappointing results of a routine auction by Pinellas County Public Schools smacks of government by rote, with the school district staff content with doing things as the district has always done them. That tired mind-set simply can't continue in a school district where both student performance and fiscal resources are down. The auction tale is another reminder why the School Board needs to search far and wide for a new superintendent who is both conversant in academic issues and astute in efficiently managing large bureaucracies.

The hero of this story is pawnshop owner Tim Russell, who called the Tampa Bay Times after being shocked by the incredibly good deals he got on used classroom equipment at the school district's annual auction in April. He told Times reporter Rebecca Catalanello he's convinced the district is losing out on recouping hundreds of thousands of dollars on its surplus equipment. Harrow's Auctions in Tampa — the company that has conducted the auctions for 20 years — frequently seemed to cut the bidding short, Russell said, and refused to split lots. The $206,906 the district made should have been at least twice that, estimates Russell, who expects to triple his investment at the auction of less than $900.

To his credit, superintendent John Stewart, hired last year in the wake of the firing of Julie Janssen, has already responded. On Monday he met with his staff to craft a new equipment disposal process that he will present today to the School Board. Among the recommendations: Several individuals within and outside the district will consult on the best way to maximize the return on specific unneeded equipment.

That same sensibility to get the best bang for every taxpayer buck needs to spread throughout a school district whose trajectory has rapidly shifted. After decades of growth, enrollment is shrinking, leaving a district needing to shed not just surplus equipment but real estate. And it needs to constantly evaluate whether it's spending money where it's needed, versus where it always has.

That's a big order for the next superintendent but a vital one. Every dollar saved means more for classrooms and the teachers who work there. Stewart is helping to set the stage for just such a superintendent, but it's up to the School Board to find the best person to assume that role long term.

Comments

Another voice: Wall isnít a lifesaver, itís a boondoggle

The first stage of President Donald Trumpís controversial border wall project ended last week, while the prospects for any more construction ó and even what type of wall ó remain uncertain.A Border Patrol agent was killed and his partner seriously wo...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17

Another voice: Time for Republicans to denounce this tax nonsense

Mick Mulvaney, the phony deficit hawk President Donald Trump tapped to oversee the nationís budget, all but admitted on Sunday that the GOP tax plan currently before the Senate is built on fiction. Senators from whom the public should expect more ó s...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nationís highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: Trump does the right thing for elephants; he shouldnít back down now

There is bad timing, and then there is this. Last week, an apparent military coup placed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in custody, ushering in a new period of political uncertainty. A few days later, the Trump administration announced that Zimba...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

From birth to death, opioid addiction is ravaging the lives of thousands of Floridians. Drugmakers, doctors, state lawmakers and insurance companies all have a role to play in slowing the epidemic. Lately some more responsible answers, including mill...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/21/17

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "Iím pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

By now the guest list if not the table is all set, and the house will be warmed with the noise of loved ones and the smell of that dish with cream of mushroom soup. Tucked between the sugar rush of Halloween and the sparkle of Christmas, Thanksgiving...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17