Pasco School Board set to renew legal counsel for another year

The new contract would allow the district to seek added advice from other lawyers if necessary.
Pasco County School Board attorney Dennis Alfonso, right, has advised the board to consider limiting its rezoning discussions with residents to public meetings only.  [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Pasco County School Board attorney Dennis Alfonso, right, has advised the board to consider limiting its rezoning discussions with residents to public meetings only. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Published December 3
Updated December 3

For decades, the Pasco County School Board has relied on the legal counsel of the McClain Alfonso law firm.

The board and district have seen the need for legal advice increase in recent years, with issues ranging from previously unheard of rezoning challenges to the regular but growing number of special education issues.

Board attorney Dennis Alfonso and his small team have aimed to keep the district's business, while also maintaining other clients. Some in the district office have advocated to hire a full-time district lawyer, in addition to the many lawyers who already run several of the district departments.

To meet the rising demand, Alfonso has agreed to add a clause to his firm's contract that would grant the district more leeway to seek outside counsel. At the same time, Alfonso told the board he would begin providing office hours twice weekly in the district Land O'Lakes administrative headquarters — something his firm had not done to this point.

That way, he said in a memo to the board, the more routine day-to-day legal matters can be handled more efficiently.

The board is scheduled to consider renewing Alfonso's contract at its meeting Tuesday. If approved, the contract would provide the firm a retainer of $5,533 per month for coverage of meetings and other general legal services, with additional work costing $200 per hour for board-certified attorneys, $165 per hour for non-certified attorneys and $55 for legal clerks and assistants.

The contract would run through November 30, 2019, when the board would again consider renewal.

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