Search committee trims Hernando superintendent field to 16
BROOKSVILLE – A search committee has trimmed the list of Hernando superintendent candidates to 16.
The nine-member committee, meeting for the first time Wednesday night to narrow down a total of 29 applicants, cut two who didn’t meet the minimum qualifications and one whose application arrived late.
Committee member Joe Vitalo, president of the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association, recommended the committee also cut applicants that didn’t have district level experience.
“In the past it always seemed like we’re a stepping stone and training ground,” Vitalo said. That, he said, needs to change. To be a contender, “You need to be on a top tier in a district.”
The committee agreed, paring down the pool to 16 candidates and in the process eliminating a couple of names familiar to some in the region: Elaine Sullivan, former principal of Hernando High School; and Steve Knobl, current principal at Gulf High School in New Port Richey.
Hernando’s current interim superintendent Sonya Jackson made the cut, as did Ken Pritz, a former executive director of school services for the Hernando district who is currently principal at Hernando High.
The committee, comprised of school district employees, union representatives and community members, agreed to keep Art Stellar in the running. Stellar, formerly superintendent of schools in Taunton, Mass., has taken a job as superintendent in Burke County, N.C., according to news reports, but the school district had not heard from Stellar and confirmed that he had withdrawn. They planned to check with him Thursday.
The other 13 candidates:
* S. Jayne Risen Morgenthal, current superintendent of the Elizabethtown Public School District in Kentucky;
* Wayne M. Talley, current assistant superintendent of Avery County Schools in Newland, N.C.;
* John R. Phillips, a former executive director of school reform for Atlanta Public Schools;
* Arnold Spadafora, former superintendent of Schenectady City Schools in New York;
* Stephen A. Stohla, former superintendent for Brookfield Local Schools in Brookfield, Ohio;
* Bryan A. Blavatt, former superintendent of Boone County Schools in Kentucky;
* Gene W. Levenstien, current interim assistant superintendent for business for three school districts in Long Island, N.Y.;
* I.V. Foster, Jr., current superintendent for Prairie Hills School District 144 in Markham, Ill.;
* Melindo A. Persi, former superintendent and interim superintendent for several New Jersey public schools;
* Gregory K. Adkins, chief human resources officer for the Lee County School District in Fort Myers;
* Aaron K. Mackey, former superintendent for Princeton City School District in Ohio;
* William Thomas Fritz, current human resources director for Shoreline School District, north of Seattle, Wash.;
* Rose Terri McSweeney, current deputy superintendent of Shoreham Wading River Central School District in New York.
The committee is slated to meet again Nov. 18 to come up with a list of five to seven finalists to send to the School Board.
--Tony Marrero, Times staff writer