Browning asks superintendent for hiring freeze
By Ronnie Blair | Tribune StaffLAND O' LAKES - Kurt Browning wants to see hiring at the Pasco County School District headquarters come to a halt until Nov. 20, when he is expected to take office as the new school superintendent.
Published: September 16, 2012
Published: September 16, 2012
Browning recently sent Superintendent Heather Fiorentino an email asking for the hiring freeze for district-level jobs.
"I was just respectfully requesting that she not fill any vacant positions at the district office," Browning said.
He didn't include schools in that request because he didn't want to tie the hands of principals who might need to fill teaching vacancies or other positions, he said.
Browning won the Aug. 14 Republican primary against Fiorentino, who has been superintendent since November 2004 and was seeking a third four-year term.
Technically, Browning isn't the superintendent-elect yet. He still must win the general election in November, but his only opposition is from write-in candidate Kathy Lambert.
Browning said one reason he wants Fiorentino to hold off on any new hiring is that the school district is already projecting a multimillion-dollar revenue shortfall for 2013-14, which will be his first budget year.
He said he doesn't want people hired now who might be out of a job come June 30 when the current budget year ends.
Also, if hiring is needed, Browning prefers to be able to put in place people chosen by his administration.
Browning said Fiorentino called him after the last school board meeting and they discussed his request. She told him there were at least a couple of positions she would need to fill, he said.
One was a grant-funded position and she feared the district would lose the grant if the hiring was delayed, he said. The other was a staff development position needed to help with employee training, he said.
"She is the superintendent and she can certainly hire whoever she feels necessary," Browning said.
Fiorentino could not be reached for comment Friday.
There is history with an outgoing Pasco superintendent making major personnel decisions. In 2004, retiring Superintendent John Long did some major reshuffling with top administrative positions at the district about five months before he left office.
Browning has already been working on his transition and has said he hopes to improve the relationship between the school board and the superintendent's office.
Fiorentino and the board have had an at-times uneasy relationship, with board members often complaining they don't get information in a timely fashion that allows them to review it before making decisions.
"I told (board Chairwoman) Joanne Hurley I'm looking forward to working with her and the school board," Browning said the day after the primary. "I want the board to be much more engaged than in the past. They need to be. They are the ones setting the policy."
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