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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

And the first four applicants for Pinellas superintendent are...

... A former construction superintendent from Melbourne, Fla.

... A former school superintendent from Mt. Morris, Mich. who is now a Head Start program specialist.

... A headmaster of a 700-student international school in Tanzania.

... And the owner of a Lakeland-based beverage distribution company that is in the process of closing.

Remember, the Pinellas County school board is looking for someone with a minimum of a master's degree and at least 10 years administrative experience including five years at a senior-level in a large school district or an organization of comparable size. They want to pay this person $225,000 to $275,000 plus benefits to run a school district with 17,000 employees, 101,000 students and a $1.3 billion budget.

You can see the new applications for yourself below, but here's a quick summary based largely on the materials they submitted to the board:

* James R. Ingram of Melbourne holds a 1975 degree from Palmetto High School, and most recently worked six years as a superintendent for MAI Contractors. He appears to have applied through, and he could not be reached by phone Monday to find out whether he intended to apply for a career change into educational leadership or if the title "superintendent" led to a misunderstanding.

* Jerri-Lynn Williams-Harper was superintendent of Beecher Community Schools in Mt. Morris, Mich., for seven years before taking a job in the same school district as a Head Start program specialist. According to, an online news site for a number of Michigan newspapers, she went on medical leave a day after having a fight with a board of education member and then later moved to the Head Start position. Williams-Harper holds an educational specialist degree from University of Georgia at Athens, a master's degree from Syracuse University and a bachelor's in secondary education degree from Illinois Wesleyan University.

* Jose Gabriel Maldonado-Rivera has been headmaster at St. Constantine's International School in Arusha, Tanzania, for the past year. Before that, he was a founding principal and associate scientist at Columbia Secondary School for Math & Engineering, a 6-12 magnet school, from 2006 to 2010. A former science teacher, he has risen through the ranks in his close to 30 years as an educator. He holds a doctorate in education from Teacher's College at Columbia University, where he also taught as an adjunct professor for five years.

* Steven A. Farina is owner of Lakeland-based Farina Distribution, which distributes beverages such as water and energy drinks to gas stations and drug stores. Farina said he oversees 14 employees and is in the process of liquidating the business. With two children in the Pinellas County school district, the Clearwater resident said in an interview with the Gradebook that he's considering the career change because like to get involved in education. According to his resume, Farina holds an associates degree in business management from the former Tampa College.

The deadline for superintendent candidates to apply is July 2 at 5 p.m. The board plans to shorten that list to five candidates by July 17, begin interviewing folks in September, then making a hiring decision in time for the person to start the job Dec. 3.

Florida School Boards Association executive director Wayne Blanton, whom the school board has hired to organize their search, has estimated the Pinellas position will attract more than two dozen applicants.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 9:04am]


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