Starting in mid-November, the Dr. Sam J. Horton Instructional Services Center on 40th Street will become a one-stop shop for human resources services for current employees as well as processing for new hires.
The Division of Human Resources includes the following departments: Employee Benefits, Employee Relations, Personnel Services, Teacher Recruitment, Safety and Risk Management and Professional Standards. Everyone in the Division of Human Resources, except the Safety Office, will be located inside the ISC.
During the first phase of the move last December the Employee Relations Department, Performance Evaluation Department, the chief human resource officer and the general manager of personnel services were all relocated to the ISC.
“Being under one roof, in one building, will make it more efficient working with both our external clients and internal employees,” said Dena Collins, the general manager of personnel services. There are still approximately 70 people from Human Resources who will relocate to ISC by November.
The ISC building, originally identified as an Ancillary Office Building, originates from the March 2005 school board appointment of R. R. Simmons Construction Corporation to provide design and construction management services for the exterior building shell of the two-story 100,000 square foot structure. When the nearly $9 million building opened, tenants included: Student Nutritional Services, Student Records, Media Services, Internal Communications, and Staff Development. Unfinished space was reserved for the Center for Technology and Education.
The building was later renamed in honor of Dr. Sam J. Horton, a long-time educator and civil rights leader in Hillsborough County. Dr. Horton started teaching in Hillsborough County in 1949, promoted to school principal in 1965 and became the first black General Director for Secondary Education in 1978. He was also elected in 1996 as the president of the Hillsborough County Branch of the NAACP.
Another positive aspect of the move is that it will bring the division together for cross training of its employees to better serve both internal employees as well as external candidates, said Collins. Human Resources can often have a calendar based workload, so one department can assist another during times such as the start of a school year or site unit adjustments.
Visitor parking will be expanded to the entire front of the building, according to Mary-Frances Ledo, the general manager of professional standards, who is also tasked with management of the building. She is in the process of assigning internal employees a dedicated spot and having them enter the lot through a separate entrance to alleviate parking issues for customers.
Originally employee processing took place at the Raymond O. Shelton School Administrative Center at 901 E. Kennedy Blvd., but parking in Downtown Tampa became an issue. There was limited space in the parking lot for downtown staff and employees along with applicants needing their services. Even if someone paid for parking in a public spot, they faced the challenge of not being able to go down and add more money to the parking meter if they were tied up in processing.
The district then moved new-hire processing to the Velasco Center at 1202 E. Palm Ave. in Ybor City. There was an arrangement with Hillsborough Community College for parking. Unfortunately, applicants then had to visit more than one building to complete processing.
Just like downtown, Ybor City’s businesses expanded and parking became an issue. Also the fingerprinting laws changed, requiring new, very large fingerprinting machines that were tied directly to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. To house this new equipment and to improve employee access, new employee processing was moved to the ISC.
Collins said not only will parking be readily available, there will be dedicated classroom space for orientation of new employees, professional development for current employees as well as space for those considering retirement to come explore their options.
The decision to move human resources to ISC was made possible due to Student Nutrition Services out growing their space and relocating to a larger facility on Silo Bend Road. When ISC first opened there were 196,694 students in the district. This year there were 213,790 students in Hillsborough County Schools and SNS has grown right along with the rest of the district.
With vacant space left on the second floor of ROSSAC, Superintendent Jeff Eakins made the decision to invest in permanent offices for the school board members at a cost of $46,616.00 for construction and another $6,190.24 for desks. Other furnishing such as chairs were either donated or brought in by the board members themselves.
Although Hillsborough County Public Schools is the fourth largest district in Florida, the school board members shared a space separated by cubicles. In other large districts, such as Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, school board members all have offices, as do those in neighboring Pasco and Pinellas Counties.
The board members used conference rooms as much as possible, but they were not always available. Connie Milito, the chief government relations officer, said “the cubicles made it challenging for board members to meet with their constituents such as parents, teachers or members of the community.”
As an elected body, school board members are also subject to Florida's Government-in-the-Sunshine Law, said Milito. Under the sunshine law, board members cannot privately discuss business that may come before the board for a vote.
The Sunshine Law, first enacted in 1967, regarding open government comprises Chapter 286 of the Florida Statutes. It was expanded by the voters in 1990 through a Constitutional amendment which passed overwhelmingly, providing for open meetings in the legislative branch of government. Government transparency was so important to Florida voters that in 1992 another constitutional amendment, guaranteeing continued openness in the state's government, expanded the requirements of the legislative branch to the judiciary.
As growth of HCPS continues, district leadership, including the superintendent staff and the school board, will keep working to ensure it occurs within the parameters of the five-year strategic plan.
Performance metrics from the Strategic Plan applicable to these moves such as the internal process improvement/efficiency metric is addressed under the Foundation of Financial Stewardship Priority and Customer Service and Continuous Improvement metrics fall under the Building Strong Relationships Priority.
The Strategic Plan can be found on the district webpage: www.sdhc.k12.fl.us by clicking on the BOARD link and then important information.