Sunday, May 20, 2018

236 days for Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart. (But who’s counting?)

Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart isn't hiding it: She's a short-timer.

"236 days," she said, greeting a reporter.

Stewart has long talked about her pending retirement, speaking about working through her final legislative session, for instance. But she hadn't publicly put a firm date to her departure to this point.

She made it clear on Wednesday, before the State Board of Education meeting in Largo. She said she's promised Gov. Rick Scott she will remain in office through his last day, and then she's finished.

Setting the countdown helps, Stewart said, in that it makes clear "the amount of time we have to get things done."

Then, the work will be up to the next administration. Stewart doesn't anticipate sticking around — she's got grandchildren to spend time with, and other interests to pursue.

But she also doesn't rule out remaining, if the next governor asks.

"Given the right set of circumstances, I would do what I can for the state of Florida," Stewart said, suggesting her retirement will not be idle.

Stewart has been commissioner since 2013, when she took over as interim leader after the resignation of Tony Bennett. The State Board made the move permanent a few months later.

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