To help ensure equity across all schools, Sarasota County Schools is hiring for a new administrative position: director of innovation and equity.
The director will help Superintendent Brennan Asplen explore new teaching models including virtual, blended and in-person.
The director also will provide support to intervention teams that help students who are struggling academically and behaviorally, provide leadership to teachers on such topics as equity and cultural responsibility, and help recruit diverse employees.
School board members in October unanimously voted in favor of adding the position.
“I really think we need this,” board member Jane Goodwin said. “I think it’s long overdue, and we need to make some significant strides this year. And this person will help us with that.”
To qualify for the position, candidates must have:
- A master’s degree;
- A valid Florida certification for educational leadership; and
- At least five years’ teaching and administrative experience.
The job description lists the post within the Administrative C section of its salary schedule: $96,474 to $110,895 annually.
Asplen said the cost of the position was not an expense he wanted to add while dealing with additional costs for COVID-19, but he feels it’s necessary.
“Everything’s about our students, and when you look at our achievement gap, and we’re trying to close that achievement gap, but we need to make sure that we have the proper resources and that we have equity across all of our schools,” he said.
Board member Bridget Ziegler said she “wasn’t keen” on adding a new administrative salary, but she wants to ensure all students have access to the same resources.
“That is such a paramount area for us to really be a successful school district,” Ziegler said. “We oftentimes pride ourselves and celebrate that we have an A grade, and that deserves celebrating, but there are so many elements where we need to be accessing more students, and we cannot let our eye off the ball.”
Asplen made clear the position was created to ensure equity, not to educate students on social issues. In September, parents expressed their disapproval of a video presented on a third-party website the district uses that focused on systemic racism.
Asplen said the new director also will help facilitate continuous training for teachers and innovate professional development techniques.
“In all areas of our district, we need to get to know our students and show our students that we care about them, their families and their backgrounds,” Asplen said.
“There might be different training needed in different sectors of our district, so that teachers can help all of our students in all of our subgroups.”