Saturday, April 21, 2018
Education

Hernando County School Board keeps old qualifications for new superintendent: no master's, board now says

BROOKSVILLE — So, it looks like former Secretary of State Colin Powell could get the job after all.

In a surprising reversal Tuesday afternoon, the Hernando County School Board deadlocked 2-2 on a job description for the district's next superintendent that would have required candidates to have a master's degree in education.

The previous description required a master's degree in education or a related field.

Since the modified description did not receive a majority, the motion died. The job description will now revert to the one used to hire current superintendent Bryan Blavatt, who is retiring at the end of June.

What exactly constitutes a related field was not specified, but newly appointed School Board Chairman Matt Foreman said his understanding is that the district accepted applications from anybody with a master's degree.

"But I look around our country and I see some great leaders, and just to think that they don't even have a shot to come here and lead our schools, to me, it's almost ridiculous to think that way," said newly elected School Board member Gus Guadagnino. "I think it's a big world out there. We need to open it up."

Board members Dianne Bonfield and Cynthia Moore were firm in their support for requiring a master's degree in education.

"They have to have the educational aspect in order to be taken seriously on the educational side, among the principals and staff, of which they will evaluate," said Bonfield. "To simply discount the educational side, I don't see how that person could ever be taken seriously in their evaluations and knowledge base of what it takes to run a school district."

Foreman said his desire was to simply cast a wider net for a potential superintendent.

Tuesday's vote came as somewhat of a surprise because, during an October workshop, all but Foreman supported the change.

At that time, members overwhelmingly supported the master's in education requirement.

"So Colin Powell could not get the job," Blavatt said.

"No, he couldn't," Moore responded.

What a difference a month can make.

Guadagnino took over for outgoing School Board member James Yant, who supported the change. Also, School Board member John Sweeney, one of the strongest voices in support of changing the job description, was absent from Tuesday's meeting.

He did not return phone calls from the Times seeking comment.

Reverting back to the old job description means the district will need to re-advertise the position with the new job description.

That will cost about $3,500 extra.

The district has advertised the position with 20 different agencies, and the current posting has been out for about a month, said Heather Martin, the district's executive director of business services. The deadline for applications was originally set for Nov. 30.

The district will now need to extend that application deadline through December.

The move is not expected to have a significant impact on the time line to appoint a new superintendent.

The start date is still scheduled for July 1.

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. Tweet him @HernandoTimes.

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