Six Pasco schools see principal shuffle

Published Nov. 5, 2018

The Pasco County school district plans to shift several principals this month, despite superintendent Kurt Browning's frequently expressed distaste for mid-year transfers, which he has deemed disruptive.

The retirement of one school leader and the resignation of another prompted some of the changes. A proposed school reorganization also is playing a role in the recommendations.

Among the moves:

• Cox Elementary School principal Claudia Steinacker will transfer to Oakstead Elementary, where longtime principal Tammy Kimpland is slated to retire.

No replacement is suggested for Cox. But the administration has called for merging Lacoochee Elementary into the Dade City school, and Lacoochee principal Latoya Jordan could oversee the transition, if the board okays that plan.

The School Board held a workshop and parent information session on the possible closure of Lacoochee this week. It has rescheduled the date for a vote on the matter to Dec. 18, an evening meeting, so more parents could attend.

• Mittye P. Locke Elementary School principal Adam Wolin is set to take over at Trinity Elementary School, where Aimee Boltze has announced her resignation to take a job with charter school firm Academica. Cynthia Bauman, Locke's assistant principal, would become acting principal pending further review.

These changes were to take effect Nov. 7.

• Woodland Elementary School principal Shauntte Butcher would swap spots with Seven Oaks Elementary School principal Shirley Ray. These moves would become effective on Nov. 12.

District officials have said the switch will suit each leader's professional skills.

SCHOOL DAYS: Getting ready to ask your boss for days off in 2019, but unsure when the kids will be in classes?

The Pasco County School Board has published its 2019-20 calendar for students and teachers.

Its proposed vacation schedule looks much like this year's version: Kids would be off for a full week at Thanksgiving (unless hurricane makeup days are needed); have two weeks off for winter break, beginning Dec. 23; and have the week of March 16, 2020, for spring break.

Classes would begin Aug. 12, 2019, and end on May 27, 2020, with high school graduations set for the week of June 3, 2020.

District officials expect to continue celebrating Veterans Day with special activities, rather than giving students that holiday off. Schools would close Labor Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

BONUS MONEY: The Florida Department of Education's recent announcement of schools that earned recognition funds for their 2018 state test performance proved a head-scratcher for Ridgewood High.

The Pasco School Board closed Ridgewood over the summer, in part because Ridgewood was threatened with a state-mandated turnaround plan after receiving two consecutive D grades.

But Ridgewood students boosted their results in the spring, netting a C for the school's final year. That meant $96,528 in extra cash for the school to use on staff bonuses, supplies and materials, or temporary employees.

With the school shuttered, and its faculty and advisory committee not having created a plan in the spring, the question quickly arose: What will happen to the money?

Principal Chris Dunning said he had discussed the issue with the Ridgewood staff informally, and had a good idea of what he'd like to do.

"I told them if we got the money, and if I got a say, everyone who was on staff all year would get an equal share of the bonus," Dunning said. "That was to try to incentivize people to stay."

Ridgewood lost several teachers throughout the year, after they learned of the planned conversion and aimed to control their employment destiny.

"This is definitely an unusual situation," Dunning said.

The good news is that the state doesn't take the money back.

Florida law says if a school that earned recognition funds closes down, it keeps the $100 per student.

The wildcard, though, is that the law assigns the district superintendent to "distribute the funds to teachers who taught at the school in the previous year in the form of a bonus."

That isn't exactly what Ridgewood was looking for. Dunning said he would talk to superintendent Kurt Browning about the possibilities, noting that schools have until Feb. 1 to craft plans (if they still are operating).

"I made the statement I would do everything I could to get it to them," Dunning said, referring to the Ridgewood staff who stuck it out. "That's what we will submit to the district for approval."

Some staff members who left during the year have contacted Browning, asking him to remember them as he decides what to do.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at Follow @jeffsolochek.