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Ex-school board member: Pinellas needs new leadership | News

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Ex-school board member: Pinellas needs new leadership
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Pinellas's superintendent of schools has offered her resignation, provided the district pays her a year's salary plus benefits.

Dr. Julie Janssen has been under fire from some school board members for a lack of leadership a meeting next week will decide her fate.

Pinellas County Commissioner Nancy Bostock served 10 years as a Pinellas school board member under three superintendents, including Dr. Julie Janssen. Bostock sat on the board in 2008 when Janssen was appointed superintendent.

Bostock says a candidate from Miami was her first choice, but he turned down the job. Bostock later voted for Janssen to show solidarity with the board. 

Bostock says Janssen's possible departure comes as no surprise. What does surprise her is how long it's taken.

"I've seen a lot of cracks in this leadership team. Communication issues, some false starts. I think there have been a lot of challenges and it'd be good for the school board to invest itself behind a new leader," says Bostock.

The school board's role is of policy maker and the superintendent's as CEO to carry out the policies. Bostock says that takes teamwork, something the next leader must help establish.

"That working together as a team can make or break the next superintendent, not just the qualities of that person," says Bostock.

The former school board members says friction between a superintendent and its board is common. She says, "There's often friction in that relationship. Part of that is good."

If the school board decides to let Janssen go, Bostock hopes each board member will be able to support the next leader. To do so, they may have to go outside to find them.

Bostock says, "I think when you bring someone in from the outside your community, you bring in a different perspective, different experiences."

As for the opening of the school year Monday, Bostock -- who has three kids in public school -- says she is not worried. "My message to parents would be schools are fine, teachers are great,  principals have it all under control and Monday will be a very good school opening."

The school board has set up a special workshop for 10 a.m. Tuesday in Largo to discuss Janssen's job performance and decide her future with the district. The meeting at the school district administration building is open to the public.

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