Manatee school district to replace technology services director

kbergen@bradenton.comOctober 3, 2012 

MANATEE -- The Manatee School District has informed the director of technology and information services that she will be replaced.

Tina Barrios was told Friday that she will no longer serve in the position, but will take on a new role for the district. Officials just don't know what it is yet, said Scott Martin, assistant superintendent of district services.

"That hasn't yet been determined," said Martin, who made the decision with interim superintendent Bob Gagnon. "But she has a wealth of experience in technology services. We want to continue to draw on that resource."

Barrios is on leave until Monday, when Martin hopes to determine a position for her, most likely within the technology department.

Because Barrios has not been terminated, she is still eligible to collect her $104,248 salary until the end of the fiscal year, but she doesn't receive any money in severance or payouts.

Barrios did not return calls from the Herald on Tuesday.

When asked what motivated the move, a decision the school board does not need to approve because Barrios is not being fired, Martin would say only that he and Gagnon decided that new leadership and perspective is needed for the department.

He kept his goals for the new director vague, saying that he hopes the new candidate would bring new ideas after observing the strengths and weaknesses of the department.

"We want them to be customer-service oriented and recognize that TIS touches every aspect of what we do in the district," Martin said.

"The success of our district depends in large part to the degree that TIS supports everyone."

He said the decision had nothing to do with the recent budget shortfall, but was motivated by a desire to bridge gaps between the support side and the curriculum side in the district.

If the district finds someone to replace Barrios before June 30, there is a chance that both employees will collect the salary of a technology services director.

Martin said that makes finding a replacement tricky. They want to fill the crucial position quickly, he said, but they also have to be fiscally responsible.

Assistant programmer Ernie Paredes will serve as interim director until a new director can be found. He will maintain his current salary, but may receive a supplemental for the added duties, Martin said.

As director of technology and information services, Barrios oversaw five department managers and was responsible for managing all information and technology assets. She taught science in Manatee County for 15 years, before serving in various technology positions for the district, such as Manatee High School's technology coordinator and the district's supervisor of instructional technology.

In 2005, Barrios won the Florida Council of Instructional Technology Leaders "Making It Happen" award, which recognizes educators who use technology to enhance learning.

A memo was sent by Martin to school administrators Friday explaining the decision to replace her.

"We believe it is crucial that we have clear direction and leadership in TIS to ensure that our schools and students are successful in reaching the high expectations that have been set for them," Martin wrote in the email. "We have, therefore, decided to seek a new Director of TIS."

Katy Bergen, Herald education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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