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Pinellas could close Hamilton Disston, move students to other centers

Pinellas school superintendent Mike Grego has proposed major changes to special education centers, closing Hamilton Disston and changing or eliminating some staff positions. The change would save the district about $6.5 million.

With the proposal, students who attended Hamilton Disston would be moved to either Calvin Hunsinger or Richard L. Sanders. Hamilton Disston would be renamed and used for the district's extended transition program. The change would save about $1.8 million of the total – with the savings coming from the elimination of positions, such as principal and assistant principal.

Grego also wants to change some special education staffing.

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Two positions – varying exceptionality liaison and compliance educational diagnosticians – would be combined into one school-based position. About 15 CEDs would be eliminated. The number of classroom aides for special education classes also would change. Those changes will make up $4.7 million of the savings.

Grego is presenting the changes to the School Board during its work session today.

He said the district spends much more on special education services than the state average. The amount, per grade level, varies from 8 percent more to 38 percent more. The result is that the district spends about $64 million more than the revenue coming in for special education.