CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Michael Grego is hiring another round of principals and administrators at today's School Board meeting.
School Board members are expected to sign off on hiring a new area superintendent, executive directors for elementary, middle and high school education and a slew of new principals.
The moves will fill in the gaps left in Grego's plan to reorganize top administrative positions in the school district but leave several principal positions open for next school year.
Sandra Downes, principal of Eisenhower Elementary, will be the executive director of elementary education. Dywayne Hinds, the principal of Westside K-8 School in Osceola County, will be the executive director of middle school education; and Rita Vasquez, director of secondary education, will be executive director of high school education.
Robert Poth, principal of East Lake High, will be the new Area 2 superintendent, one of five that oversee all schools within the school district. Poth will replace William Corbett, who was promoted to deputy superintendent. Grego has cut 13 administrative positions to come up with the money to pay for the executive director jobs and several new positions, such as a new associate superintendent of student and community services.
The number of changes that first-year superintendent Grego has enacted over the past few months may seem unusual, but any business with more than 50,000 employees should expect changes, said School Board member Robin Wikle.
"Anytime you have changes in leadership there will be a fear of the unknown, but there's also excitement to see the quality of leadership improve," Wikle said.
Blanton Elementary, Campbell Park Elementary, Largo Middle and Northwest Elementary schools will get new principals next year. Grego may add three new principal appointments to today's agenda during today's meeting, School Board Chairwoman Carol Cook said.
Godfrey Watson, principal of Campbell Park Elementary, will become an assistant principal at Ridgecrest Elementary, and Robert Ovalle, principal of New Heights Elementary, will take his place. A new principal for New Heights Elementary has yet to be named.
Lisa Freeman, principal of Cypress Woods Elementary, will become principal of Pinellas Park Elementary, and Stephanie Joyner, assistant principal of Pinellas Secondary School, will become principal of Largo Middle.
Other principals will fill spots left vacant by retiring educators. Cheryl Ann Maggio, assistant principal at Sexton Elementary, will become principal of Blanton Elementary, and Marie Brainard, assistant principal at Woodlawn Elementary, will become principal of Northwest Elementary.
Douglas Kiemig, principal of Hamilton Disston School in Gulfport, will become principal of Calvin Hunsinger School in Clearwater, where Principal Stephanie Bessette is retiring. Students from Hamilton Disston, a special education school, will move to Calvin Hunsinger or Richard L. Sanders School in Pinellas Park next year when the school is closed, saving the school district about $1.8 million. The school closure is part of about $6.5 million in proposed cuts to special education.
"It's not a criticism of any individual, in my view, if you move them because it's about finding the right person with the right abilities for the job, or for the population in that school," said School Board Vice Chairwoman Peggy O'Shea.
School district officials hope to have all principals and administrators in place by June 30, Cook said. Hiring will continue through the summer, said school district spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra.. All appointments approved at today's meeting will likely begin July 1, Parra said. Salaries for those positions are still being determined.
A special School Board meeting may be scheduled for June 27 to approve additional hires, Cook said.