And the finalists for Pinellas County superintendent are...
After about three hours of discussion Tuesday, the Pinellas County School Board whittled down a list of 50 applicants to just three: Mike Grego, former superintendent of Osceola County; Constance Jones, chief academic officer of Lee County; and Christian Cutter, an assistant superintendent in Colorado.
Interviews are expected to occur in the next two to three weeks, board chairwoman Robin Wikle said. A first round will be conducted in public with the seven-member board, followed by private one-on-one interviews with each board member. A second round of interviews with the top two finalists would likely follow.
Board members had a spirited debate about whether to do another search, spurred on somewhat by a last-minute offer from the Pinellas Education Foundation to pay for it. The foundation offered $30,000 to conduct a national search by a professional recruiting firm. Wikle and Glenton Gilzean both spoke in favor of extending the search.
"To be honest with you, I don't think we have the best of the best," Gilzean said of the 50-candidate pool.
Other board members said they couldn't be sure until they interviewed finalists. If, at that point, board members aren't satisfied that they have found the right person, they would be willing to do another search, a majority agreed.
Another surprise during the meeting: superintendent John Stewart said he'd be willing to stay on until March, if it helped the school board find the right person for the top job. Stewart previously had indicated he'd like to leave by December.