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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Would a new superintendent search bring in better candidates?



After a lengthy discussion Tuesday, the Pinellas County School Board selected three finalists for superintendent - Mike Grego, former superintendent of Osceola County; Constance Jones, chief academic officer for Lee County; and Christian Cutter, an assistant superintendent in Colorado. (See that story here.)

See their resumes here.

But the big question remains - did this search, conducted by Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, yield the best pool of candidates? A lot of people don't think so. The Pinellas Education Foundation has offered to pay $30,000 for a new search, done by a national recruiting firm. Two board members appeared willing Tuesday to take them up on it.

Blanton made a strong case that doing another search now - and making the finalists wait - would be worse. He said the finalists likely wouldn't stick around. The board would appear not to know what it's doing or what it wants. And the end result would be a weaker candidate pool than exists now.

"The recruitment process has happened," he said.

Some of the reasons for the current lackluster candidate pool may have nothing to do with who ran the search. Several large Florida school districts, including Broward, Orange and Palm Beach counties, hired new superintendents within the last year. The economy is bad, so viable candidates might not want to risk a job change. (See our story about this here.)

Blanton alluded to those issues too. He said he called potential applicants personally - some applied and some didn't. He called the Broad Foundation, which trains future superintendents, and their top three prospects already had been hired.

"They said, 'Our pool for you is gone,'" he said.

Board chairwoman Robin Wikle, who advocated a new search, said the board has some time. Superintendent John Stewart said he would stay on until March, if necessary, instead of leaving in December.

What do you think? Is a new search a good idea? Should the board wait and try again?


[Last modified: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 11:56am]


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