Hillsborough School board will lose long-serving Kurdell
In the long-fought battle over leadership of the nation's eighth largest school district, Carol Kurdell was perhaps the closest ally of Superintendent MaryEllen Elia.
A new board fired Elia in January of 2015 and now Kurdell is stepping down after 24 years in office.
Divisions still exists on the board and in the administration, And Kurdell acknowledged them briefly in a statement she issued Monday.
But that's just part of her motivation, she said. More to the point, she thinks it's time for someone else to step in.
Candidates who have filed for the at-large seat so far are former Tampa City Council member Joseph Caetano, retired businessman Stanley Gray, former teacher and running coach Lynn Gray, Green Party activist Randy Toler and adjunct college professor Norene Copeland Miller.
I am eternally grateful to the voters, the School District employees, and the parents who have shown faith in me over the years. They have challenged me, guided me, and inspired me. I am confident that someone among them will step forward to be a School Board member who will always put children first. I make this announcement now as a way of encouraging credible and sincere candidates to step forward.
Though I have made it abundantly clear in recent months that I have been disappointed with the unnecessary dissension and acrimony among Board members, the recent turmoil is not the primary reason why I made this decision. Our School District is in a transitional period that will require significant, long-term change. The School Board members who put those changes in place should be prepared to see them through in the coming years. It is time for someone else to make that commitment.
Though I certainly cannot take credit for all the School District's accomplishments of the last 24 years, I am proud to have played a role. During that time, our District created the structures necessary to emerge from a federal desegregation order, introduced technology into our classrooms, increased the array of school choices available to families, such as magnet and middle schools, enjoyed a uniquely collaborative relationship with the unions, provided generous raises and valuable benefits to all employees, and much more.
From my days as a PTA leader through my time as a School Board member, I have been blessed to work with leaders of uncommon integrity and vision. I have had the honor of supporting employees who embody everything that is right about public education. And I have been proud to represent a school district that has earned a reputation as progressive, forward thinking, and student centered.
In the coming months, I intend to embark on a tour of our school district to express my appreciation to employees for their hard work, encourage students to do their best, and thank parents for entrusting us with their children. The students, the parents, and the employees are what this School District is all about. They are what make this District great. I urge the leaders of this School District never to lose sight of that.
Whether in Washington, Tallahassee, or Hillsborough County, every time office holders allow politics or personal feelings to get in the way of decision making, we let down our constituents, fail to show leadership, and miss an opportunity to show integrity and character.
In summary, I'm both proud and humbled to have played a role in this School District's progress at an historic and eventful time. I am pleased that I was able to contribute to that progress.