Superintendent Browning preps to run Pasco schools
By Ronnie Blair | Tribune StaffLAND O' LAKES - Kurt Browning, expected to become Pasco County's next schools superintendent, is getting a crash course in the operation of the school district during the next two weeks.
Published: September 19, 2012
Published: September 19, 2012
Browning, winner of the Republican primary for superintendent on Aug. 14, is scheduled for a series of meetings with assistant superintendents and department heads between now and Oct. 4.
Today, for example, he is set for sessions with Mike Woodall, purchasing director; John Petrashek, director of new construction; Mary Tillman, director of employee benefits; Rick Kurtz, director of food and nutrition services; and Phil Bell, athletics director.
Browning defeated incumbent Superintendent Heather Fiorentino in the primary. He still must win the general election in November, but no Democrat ran, and his only opposition is from a write-in candidate, Kathy Lambert, whose name won't appear on the ballot.
The swearing-in ceremony is planned for Nov. 20.
Browning doesn't have a background in education, so during the primary campaign he courted voters by stressing his management experience as former Florida secretary of state and former Pasco supervisor of elections.
Browning has plenty of reading material as he prepares for the meetings with district administrators.
Assistant Superintendent John Mann oversaw the compilation of a Superintendent Transition Manual to serve as a primer. A similar manual was created in 2004 for Fiorentino when she was elected to her first term.
The manual includes the district's five-year strategic plan, the 2012-13 budget, a list of schools and principals, a district telephone directory, a list of departments and their directors, and a district fact sheet from 2011-12 that includes the number of students, employees and schools.
The manual also has short reports from department directors summarizing information such as each department's major responsibilities, federal and state laws that directly affect it, major projects the department is working on in the next six months and the biggest issues the department faces during the next three years.
For example, Kevin Shibley, the employee relations director, wrote that his department's biggest issues will be the evolution of new systems for evaluating teachers and principals, and the effect of revenue shortfalls on contract negotiations with United School Employees of Pasco.
To help Browning match names to faces, the manual provides photographs of many key district staff members.
Browning would prefer there not be much change in those faces between now and when he takes office.
He recently sent Fiorentino an email asking for a hiring freeze on district-level jobs.
Browning said the school district already is 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 told him there were at least a couple of positions she would need to fill because she doesn't think they should remain open until November.
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