BROOKSVILLE — Among the 32 applicants seeking the school district's new assistant superintendent post are three of superintendent Wayne Alexander's go-to staffers.
Sonya Jackson, Ken Pritz and Barbara Kidder have all been tapped by Alexander to help lead schools that face challenges.
Jackson is currently executive director of school services, but has been assigned to take over this summer as principal at Nature Coast Technical High School. The school has faced a litany of issues in recent months, most recently the revelation that out-of-county students have been admitted in violation of district policy.
Kidder is the district's director of professional development. At the same time Alexander reassigned Jackson, he selected Kidder to serve as an assistant principal at Explorer K-8. The 2,000-student school started the year overcrowded and houses the first and only gifted student magnet center.
Pritz was working as the district's director of support operations last year when Alexander asked him to take over at Hernando High, a school that has struggled academically. Pritz will finish his first school year there next month.
Jackson, who came to the district five years ago from Putnam County and who has not held a school level position here, said her decision to apply for the assistant post does not mean she's unhappy with her Nature Coast assignment.
The job description mostly mirrors her current responsibilities, she said. "I would be doing an injustice to myself if I didn't apply," Jackson said.
Kidder has 15 years of experience at the district, including an assistant principal post. Kidder, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in organizational leadership, said she enjoys working at the school level but feels she can best serve the district as assistant superintendent.
"It's in perfect alignment for where I'd like to take my career and help Hernando County," Kidder said.
Pritz said his resume of 29 years with the district shows he can do the job. He also has served as director of school services.
Pritz said Hernando High has made great gains in the past year but acknowledged there is more to do.
"I think those things can be continued" under a new leader if necessary, he said.
The salary for the assistant superintendent job is $96,832. The move would mean a pay raise for all three candidates.
Kidder, who earns $76,990 annually, would enjoy the largest jump. Jackson and Pritz make $90,167 and $94,404, respectively.
There is at least one more district employee vying for the job. Debra Ogden is a reading teacher at Parrott Middle School.
Board wants more say in assistant pick
Not all of the 32 applicants meet the mandatory requirements, said Sherrie Kudla, an executive secretary in the business services department. Among the requirements are a master's degree and a minimum of five years of educational leadership experience.
Kudla will winnow the applications and present them to Alexander by the end of next week. The district hopes to fill the position by July 1.
At least one School Board member has said he doesn't feel comfortable with Alexander making the pick because he may leave soon. He is currently job hunting in New England where his wife and stepchildren live and is a finalist in two school districts who want their candidate to start this summer.
Board member Pat Fagan said he will try to convince the board that Alexander's short-time status should preclude him from making the decision on his own.
Alexander did not return a call for comment on Friday.
Fagan acknowledged, though, that the presence of Pritz, Kidder and Jackson in the applicant pool bodes well for the district. "I feel very comfortable with those three names," he said.
One or more of those names might land in another stack of applications.
The board hopes to have Alexander's replacement hired by February, which means the top position will be advertised later this year.
Pritz, Kidder and Jackson applied for the superintendent position two years ago — the job ultimately awarded to Alexander — but weren't called for interviews.
Tony Marrero can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1431.