Who will lead Hernando schools?
Could Hernando County use a rising star to lead its schools, or would a steady veteran be a better match? That shaped up as a central question Tuesday, as School Board members weighed a consultant's top picks to succeed the retiring Superintendent Wendy Tellone. Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, lavished praise on two area-superintendents: David M. Piccolo of Brevard County, and Harry John La Cava of Broward. He also included Duval County principal Lorenda Tiscornia, Hernando administrator Ken Pritz, and former Georgia and Kentucky superintendent Craig Bangtson in his list of five recommended candidates. "I very seldom have a candidate where I can't find any negatives, but this is one of them," Blanton said of Piccolo, who oversees 22 schools and around a third of Brevard's 73,000 students. La Cava was described as an able trouble-shooter in charge of Broward's 45 charter schools, and an administrator who repeatedly calmed the waters in troubled sections of the 260,000-student district.
At least one board member wasn't sold. Dianne Bonfield questioned whether area superintendents, who serve as deputies to the main superintendent, are sufficiently seasoned to lead Hernando: "I really don't like seeing Hernando County being a training grounds for people who are aspiring to be a superintendent," she said. The board plans to meet Feb. 15 to narrow down its list of finalists and schedule interviews for March.
-Tom Marshall, Hernando County education reporter