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School staff plans okayed

The School Board on Tuesday approved a new organizational structure for the district administration and a staffing plan that balances employee numbers among schools over the next three years.

Few, if any, school district employees are expected to lose their jobs in the restructuring. No teachers who have tenure with the district are being considered for layoffs, and announcements on where administrators will be reassigned are expected soon.

Though both of the proposals, which were developed by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, were drafts, Superintendent Pete Kelly needed the board's approval to move forward because hiring decisions for the new school year must be made in April.

The administration plan includes new job titles for some and new duties for others. Two administrative positions will be eliminated by consolidation. New responsibilities will also be added at the district level.

Who will land where on the organizational chart and how much they will be paid is undetermined. The superintendents association is conducting a compensation study that Kelly will use as a guideline.

Job descriptions for each position have not been set, and the board made its approval of the structure contingent on that information.

Inequities in the number of employees have principals and school finance officials struggling to find a way to trim as many as 45 positions while not affecting programs in the schools.

The staffing plan draft suggests cuts as deep as 15 positions at Lecanto High School and lesser adjustments at other schools, but Kelly said those cuts won't be made in a single year.

School finance director Walter Pierce said the reason for the realignment is that student growth last year was 1.3 percent, but the district's teaching staff increased by nearly 5 percent and non-teaching staff by nearly 8 percent.

Because the number of students determines how much state money the district gets, that caused a real crunch. "We need to make sure that we're all on the same page with what we're doing here," Pierce said. "As far as our growth, we staffed too much."

Though some schools are overstaffed, Pierce said Kelly wants to give principals as much flexibility as possible in deciding where to spend money in their schools.

During the next three years, he said, the district can move closer to the staffing levels recommended in the plan.

Overall, Pierce said the district's schools will get an estimated $55.4-million to operate in the coming year, just about what they received last year.

The district will have to find a way to build back reserves devastated by this year's financial shortfall, Pierce said. "Our reserves are basically at zero," he said.