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Column: Hernando County superintendent shakes things up to even things out

Even before he applied to be superintendent, Wayne Alexander visited Hernando County to learn what people thought of the schools.

He consistently heard the district was dogged by a gulf between the haves and have-nots, that the more affluent families always seemed to get into the best schools and programs.

That's not necessarily a new complaint, or one exclusive to Hernando County. Still, Alexander vowed to shake things up. Less than a year on the job, he's making waves.

Last week there was a steady parade in and out of Alexander's office. He intends to reassign seven of the district's 21 principals and a number of assistant principals. It's hard to recall a bigger administrative overhaul in this district, and a lot of folks agree it is way overdue.

He acknowledged that the reorganization goes a long way toward achieving equal access for special programs. He wants to introduce new programs to underserved students, like those who live east of Brooksville.

This reorganization is also an opportunity to give some administrators a new challenge. He is asking some principals to duplicate their successes at new campuses. For instance, Joe Clifford has developed a reputable environmental program at West Hernando Middle School. Alexander would like him to do the same thing at J.D. Floyd Elementary.

But some schools just need fresh leadership since administrators have been in place too long.

"The tendency is to stagnate and not grow," Alexander said.

Nobody is immune to the wind of change. Principals who weren't reassigned this year should expect to be moved in the next few years. And opportunity is knocking for some ambitious, energetic young men and women who want to move up.

Regardless of the motives, change makes people nervous. Phones have been ringing off the hook. Some parents are grumbling. A group of teachers reportedly confronted Alexander after they heard news of the shakeup.

But let's keep this in perspective. Alexander understands the political process, and his job is an appointed position. If the majority of the School Board didn't agree with his assessment of his administrative team and his goals, Alexander would never have trotted out this new flowchart.

Alexander has a mandate to even the playing field and pump some energy into some places that his bosses think need it.

If the public doesn't like it, they know where to complain.

Andrew Skerritt can be reached at askerritt@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4602 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4602.

Column: Hernando County superintendent shakes things up to even things out 03/27/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2008 1:57pm]
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