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Gulf Highlands Elementary's assistant principal transferred

PORT RICHEY — Gulf Highlands Elementary School, fresh from the removal of its principal, now needs a new assistant principal.

Superintendent Heather Fiorentino transferred assistant principal Dawn Scilex from the F-rated school on Thursday, moving her to a like position at Mary Giella Elementary. The posting for the open spot at Gulf Highlands went out at the same time.

Fiorentino also shuffled three other assistant principals, moving Kathy Kaburis from Mary Giella to Chester Taylor Elementary; Liz Boeger from Taylor to Watergrass Elementary; and Gretchen Rudolph-Fladd from Watergrass to Veterans Elementary.

David Scanga, assistant superintendent for elementary schools, said the musical chairs had nothing to do with the assistant principals' past performance.

"All of those transfers were trying to position the assistant principals to give them second experiences," Scanga said.

As a general rule, the district likes to have potential principals work in more than one school, under different styles of leadership, so they can get a broader idea of what it means to run a school. Each of the administrators who was moved could eventually be in line to become a principal.

Scilex, in fact, is participating in a district program designed to train up-and-coming assistant principals for the principal ranks.

Scanga said Scilex very well could have remained at Gulf Highlands to help incoming principal Kara Smucker improve academic performance there.

"She is a great assistant principal," he said. "But moving her now is better for her."

The change gives Smucker a chance to pick someone to complement her skills in moving Gulf Highlands forward.

"Kara is the key," Scanga said, adding that there is no hand-picked assistant principal in the offing. "Certainly we want an assistant principal who will be supportive of everything Kara does. … I'm not worried for Gulf Highlands in terms of getting the leadership they need."

Smucker has said she has no plans to make massive staff changes at the school.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at

Gulf Highlands Elementary's assistant principal transferred 07/28/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 28, 2011 8:32pm]
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