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Five candidates up for Hernando schools superintendent job

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County School Board members on Tuesday are expected to name the finalists to become the district's next superintendent.

They seem pleased with their options, including the candidates recommended by a committee of citizens.

Board member Cynthia Moore said she has looked at the 28 candidates still in the running, but prefers to interview the five chosen by the committee, which was asked to review all the candidates.

"I like their experience," she said the committee's picks. "They have a wide variety of knowledge. They seem to be people's people."

Two internal candidates made the list. The remaining three come from within the state.

Ken Pritz and Sonya Jackson, the district's two assistant superintendents, were the first names recommended to the School Board for the job. Both competed for the Hernando position previously, eventually losing out to Bryan Blavatt, who will retire at the end of June.

The committee's other recommendations are Constance Jones of Estero, Diana Greene of Ocala and Rebecca Fleck of Sebring.

Both Jones and Greene are finalists for the Manatee County superintendent's position, a job that pays between $170,000 and a $195,000. The Hernando superintendent will be paid between $100,000 and $130,000.

The Manatee School Board is expected to extend an offer to a candidate Wednesday.

Hernando board Chairman Matt Foreman said he also is pleased with the five recommended candidates and is not looking at any of the other candidates.

"Those five are stacked very close together," Foreman said. "The interview process will hopefully help us on spacing them out a little bit."

Based on his conversations with committee members, he said, there appears to be a pretty substantial gap between the five recommended candidates and the others.

"Those are our five, as far as I'm concerned," he said.

Jones is the chief academic officer in Lee County and is on temporary assignment covering for a middle school principal. She was a finalist for the superintendent's position in Lee before another candidate was selected, and she also has been a finalist in Pinellas and Palm Beach counties.

Greene was a deputy superintendent in Marion County before she unsuccessfully ran for the county's elected superintendent position. She was then reassigned to an elementary school as principal.

Fleck is the assistant superintendent of schools overseeing curriculum and instruction in Highlands County. She made an unsuccessful run for superintendent in that county, which also elects its chief of schools.

Many consider Pritz and Jackson the frontrunners for the job.

Blavatt is credited with having groomed a successor in his previous job in Kentucky. And when he was hired in Hernando, School Board members said they hoped his mentoring would bring forth someone to eventually take his place.

Candidate interviews will be in March, and a new superintendent is expected to be picked March 19. The new superintendent's start date is July 1.

Danny Valentine can be reached at, (352) 848-1432 or @HernandoTimes on Twitter.

Five candidates up for Hernando schools superintendent job 02/16/13 [Last modified: Saturday, February 16, 2013 12:11pm]
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