School board on Board with Multi-Year Contracts for Administrators

Hernando Sun | By Chris Bernhardt | June 8, 2024

Those placed in positions of authority across the Hernando County School District will receive more job security moving forward.

That was the consensus of the Hernando County School Board following a presentation at a May 28 workshop. This aligns with Florida Statute 1012.33, which outlines the eligibility requirements for multi-year contracts for district administrators and principals.

“I think something like this, having the stability in a school would really help for staff morale as well as just a vision. To take a vision in anything less than three years I think would be very difficult to make that change,” said Chocachatti Elementary principal Lara Silva at the workshop. “So by having a multi-year contract I think that principals would ensure their staff that they’re in there for the long run and that they’re in there for the change, and they would have that time necessary to make the changes.”

Those receiving multi-year deals must have three years of in-district experience at their current level, the highest ranking available on the evaluation instrument and a recommendation from the superintendent. This will go into effect for the upcoming school year.

“That first year, some would say it’s almost even foolish to jump in and make a ton of changes. So you do have to observe the land,” Weeki Wachee High Principal Ed LaRose said. “For people to believe in us, that when we say ‘Hey, this is the direction we’re taking the school.’ If they know we’re on that annual piece year-by-year, sometimes it’s hard for a staff to believe and go ahead and lunge forward with our vision and work alongside that.”

LaRose added that the current set-up for annual contracts may deter some from pursuing administration jobs. “I remember when I was first going into administration, a lot of people were telling me, ‘Be careful because you’re going to lose your tenure. You’re going to give up your contract as a teacher, your protection,’ if you would,” LaRose said. “We have a job and duty in this district to build capacity and people that want to step out and become leaders, and I think that hesitation is there speaking with some of those people about going into leadership because of that fear of that annual one thing at a time.

“I think this would speak volumes not just to people in the current roles, but also people considering building our capacity in the district and moving into those roles. I think it would speak to them as well and maybe give them a little bit more courage to step forward into that.”

School board vice chair Susan Duval, who ran the workshop in the absence of chairwoman Linda Prescott and herself a former principal, requested the presentation and board member Shannon Rodriguez was a vocal supporter of shifting to multi-year contracts.

“I don’t want to go into a school and try to do a job and knowing every 12 months, if somebody doesn’t like me, or they have a certain feeling and for whatever reason the leadership could go ahead and just get rid of me,” Rodriguez said. “I do think this is more transparent and this makes everybody more equal on an even playing field.”

She took it a step further, adding that she would like to see multi-year contracts for teachers.
“If a teacher has shown that they’ve been there and shown with all their reports that they’ve worked hard and they’re doing a great job, I think they should have something to where they are also able to remain and not just get ousted every time each year falls and it’s up to us if we want to renew or not,” Rodriguez said.

No statute in Florida currently exists to guide multi-year contracts for teachers. Superintendent John Stratton agreed with Rodriguez and noted there was a legislative push to bring back tenure. The desire to see that pressed further was expressed by the board to Shawn Foster with Sunrise Consulting Group, who was on hand to deliver a legislative update.

“I smiled when I heard about that,” Foster said. “I think it’s a great request to put in.”

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