Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Larsen and Cane prevail in Pinellas District 2 School Board race, toppling incumbent Krassner

In the District 2 race for a seat on the Pinellas County School Board, voters elected to send a middle school reading teacher and a performing arts professional to a runoff in this fall’s general election– rejecting a two-term school board incumbent.

In Tuesday's primary election, teacher Jeff Larsen had the edge with 46.3 percent of the vote. Lisa Nicole Cane, creative director of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Academy, won 37.3 percent.

Incumbent Terry Krassner, 66, didn't fare as well, capturing just 16.4 percent of the vote to lose out on her District 2 seat.

Krassner, a former principal, wished her competitors well after the results came in Tuesday evening.

"I love Pinellas County Schools. I always strived to put students, families and educators first," she said in a statement. "My only wish is that my successor does the same. I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to serve as an educator for 35 years and 8 years on the school board."

The at-large District 2 race is open to all county voters.

Larsen, 41, brings a particular passion for improving the working environment for teachers, which he says will have profound effects on students' education. He points, for instance, to extreme teacher turnover in the county's most troubled schools, which he said can leave students with five or six teachers in a school year.

To break the cycle, he wants to set up teachers to succeed, with better training and more resources for new teachers, plus more volunteers and co-teachers in struggling schools. To get a better handle on trouble spots, he wants more thorough climate surveys and exit interviews. And teachers should be encouraged to focus on learning, not testing, he said.

He works as a reading teacher in Pasco County, at Gulf Middle in New Port Richey, and has coached girls' and boys' basketball. His two sons attend Pinellas schools. He has also served two terms as a city commissioner and once as vice mayor in his hometown of Tarpon Springs. It's that broad resume that he said resonated with voters.

"I'm ready to lead from day one," he said.

Cane, 31, said that she was driven to run after frustrations with her children's curriculum, finding it devoid of the humanities, such as social studies. She said she wants to integrate the performing arts into schools, citing improved reading and math test scores at schools that invested in such programs.

She also wants to amplify students' voices.

"Choices are made from the top down, and those of us dealing with them from the student and parent perspective don't have a lot of say," she said.

Larsen spent far more on the race compared to his competitors, approaching $30,000 in spending, much of it going to mailers and other ads. Krassner spent $7,244 and Cane spent $3,135, according to county filings.

The School Board position paid $44,163 last year. Terms last four years.

For statewide election coverage check out The Buzz

For local election coverage check out the Bay Buzz

For school board election coverage check out The Gradebook.

Comments
Florida superintendents association adopts legislative platform

Florida superintendents association adopts legislative platform

Funding plays a key role in several of the recommendations.
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida education news: Prekindergarten, parent pushback, school board races and more

Florida education news: Prekindergarten, parent pushback, school board races and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Updated: 6 hours ago
Hudson Elementary staff, families hope to halt proposal to close school

Hudson Elementary staff, families hope to halt proposal to close school

The Pasco County superintendent has recommended shutting down the campus in 2021.
Published: 11/12/18
Florida education news: School funding, board members, student testing and more

Florida education news: School funding, board members, student testing and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Published: 11/12/18
Florida voters are saying yes when school districts ask for more money. Is that a good thing?

Florida voters are saying yes when school districts ask for more money. Is that a good thing?

Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins takes a clear message from last week's election, which saw many Floridians vote to tax themselves more to help public schools meet rising costs.People see the challenges firsthand and "they know t...
Published: 11/12/18
Linda Lerner steps away after 28 years on the Pinellas School Board. ‘I wanted to make things better for everybody’

Linda Lerner steps away after 28 years on the Pinellas School Board. ‘I wanted to make things better for everybody’

Linda Lerner, one of Florida's longest-serving school officials with nearly three decades on the Pinellas County School Board, will step down Tuesday, leaving her seat for one of three new members elected last week.The decision was difficult, Lerner ...
Published: 11/12/18
ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Nov. 5, 2018

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Nov. 5, 2018

Can Florida’s courts determine what a “high quality” education system looks like? Or is that too subjective a term? The Florida Supreme Court has that question before it, as it determines whether a 9-year-old school funding adequacy...
Published: 11/10/18
President of Ybor City’s Hillsborough Community College campus will step down, return to teaching

President of Ybor City’s Hillsborough Community College campus will step down, return to teaching

Shawn Robinson, president of Hillsborough Community College's Ybor City campus since 2007, is stepping down to return to teaching.In an email announcing the news Friday, Robinson said "it is time for a change." He will relocate to the college's Brand...
Published: 11/09/18
How did all those Florida school board races turn out?

How did all those Florida school board races turn out?

Twenty-seven percent of incumbents either resigned or lost.
Published: 11/09/18
New Florida House education leader named

New Florida House education leader named

Mount Dora Republican Rep. Jennifer Sullivan is a vocal backer of school choice programs.
Published: 11/09/18