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School Board alienates Blavatt with meddling

The nitpicking micromanagement from a Hernando School Board majority is poised to send a competent but clearly frustrated school superintendent out the door. Bryan Blavatt, on the job just over a year, signaled his intent Tuesday to be a short-term superintendent during a budget work session in which the board spent 45 minutes dissecting his administrative reorganization plan intended to flatline the top of the organization and save $59,000 annually.

Only School Board member John K. Sweeney recognized the superintendent's role as day-to-day administrator with the board as policy makers. The others shot down, for a second time, Blavatt's attempt to design a management team.

"Maybe this is not a good marriage,'' Blavatt said at one point. "I don't know if we're compatible.''

This wasn't a slip of the tongue or a negotiating ploy for a better contract. He said it seven times. And if the board missed the message, then their heads are in the sand.

Comments from board member Dianne Bonfield, who criticized the planned reorganization because there were no assistant or deputy superintendents, indicated she did just that. She told St. Petersburg Times staff writer Tony Marrero that Blavatt was just unfamiliar with a proactive board and that the working relationship wouldn't change.

Proactive means setting policy and then getting out of the way while the professional staff administers it. Proactive does not mean rejecting management decisions — most of which are driven by cost savings as the district attempts to cut more than $11 million — just because a job title is vacant. The board's desire to micromanage is particularly curious considering the high marks members gave Blavatt during his first-year evaluation in May.

If the meddling is to be status quo for the board, then members might as well start considering a time line for an eventual replacement superintendent. Blavatt's commentary is a precursor to ending his tenure after the difficult financial issues have been settled.

It is easy to be the boss when times are prosperous. But, it is most imperative the school district have strong leaders as it attempts to serve children and bolster academic achievement at a time of dwindling resources.

The Hernando School Board majority of Dianne Bonfield, James Yant and Cynthia Moore shouldn't confuse leadership with obstinacy.

School Board alienates Blavatt with meddling 06/08/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 6:03pm]
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