Hernando County School Board signs off on superintendent as parties agree on contract

John Stratton, who has spent the better part of a year as the district's interim superintendent, will make just less than the state average salary for a superintendent.
John Stratton [Courtesy Hernando County School District]
John Stratton [Courtesy Hernando County School District]
Published March 12

BROOKSVILLE — John Stratton, appointed earlier this year to become superintendent of Hernando County schools after several months as interim superintendent, will make $148,000 a year under a contract approved Tuesday by the School Board.

Stratton also will be eligible for annual performance-based bonuses of up to $2,000 under the contract, which lasts through June 2022. Under his interim title, he made $124,000.

"I'm excited, ready to go, and I look forward to the next three years," Stratton said. "And I'm relieved we're at the end of the negotiation period, and we've committed to each other."

His pay is slightly less than the $152,000 made by his predecessor, Lori Romano, during her final year leading the district, according to state Department of Education data. In that year, 2017-18, the average salary for superintendents statewide was about $154,000.

The School Board picked Stratton to replace Romano last summer after firing her over concerns about her leadership abilities. School Board members have since praised Stratton for his regular presence in the district's schools and his ability to connect with students' families.

Stratton's contract largely follows Romano's, though the ex-superintendent's contract included additional financial incentives and annual $5,000 raises. The School Board can increase Stratton's salary at its discretion, and he'll get the same annual percentage increases as the district's other administrative employees.

For the superintendent, the contract also marks an opportunity to look farther in the district's future. He said his goals over the next few years include expanding career and technical education, increasing the offerings of advanced courses and accelerating efforts on recruitment, retention and development to combat the teacher shortage.

"We've got to get that going now," he said.

Board member Gus Guadagnino said he felt Stratton had the community's support, and board chair Susan Duval said she was excited to continue working with Stratton.

"There's already been a very positive and very notable difference in how things are happening at the district," she said. "We look forward to many days ahead."

Contact Jack Evans at jevans@tampabay.com. Follow @JackHEvans.