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Pasco School Board hires consultant for $290,000

LAND O'LAKES — The Pasco County School Board agreed Tuesday to spend nearly $300,000 for a consultant to help write its next strategic plan.

Tampa-based TransPro would receive $290,000 over two years to guide the district's effort to set priorities that are clearly defined and measurable. The priorities would drive future budgets.

"If it sits on a shelf it is not successful," group CEO Mark Aesch told the board. "It needs to be a part of daily life."

Board members raised concerns about the cost, which exceeds the last time the district wrote its plan.

Items in the proposal were broken down, including hourly rates and prices for different phases.

"What's the not-to-exceed cost?" board member Joanne Hurley asked, cutting to the chase.

Aesch listed the bottom-line figure, then added that part of the process will be identifying areas of cost savings. If the savings don't exceed the price tag, he said, "you get your success plan for free. We are that invested."

Vice chairman Steve Luikart asked if a performance contract might be possible, paying out based on achieving set goals. Aesch said that model works in some instances, but suggested it wouldn't be best for the school district as it creates a full plan rather than trying to accomplish individual objectives.

Hurley said time was just as important as money in this effort, and asked how much extra work employees would have to spend in crafting the plan.

Superintendent Kurt Browning said the goal is to minimize additional time working. However, he added, "the time that we would devote to this project is going to well pay off for our district in the long run," as long as they develop something that has lasting impact.

Board member Cynthia Armstrong cautioned the administration that they must be willing to change direction on the fly, as they get input from others.

"There is no point in doing this if you are not open and receptive to change," Armstrong said.

"We would be foolish to say absolutely not, we are not going to entertain any ideas that are not ours," Browning answered.

In other business, the board approved moving forward with an employee life insurance plan backed by outside investors, pending final review of all final legal documents.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at