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Hernando County schools begin search for a new superintendent — again

BROOKSVILLE — Here we go again.

Two years ago this month, School Board members were weighing a short list of candidates to lead the Hernando County School District.

On that day in 2007, consultant Wayne Blanton offered five recommended candidates. There were two big-city candidates from South Florida; a local favorite, senior Hernando administrator Ken Pritz; and two long shot candidates from Kentucky and Duval County. Board members added three names of their own, including one Wayne Alexander, a director of human resources and school operations from New England.

Today at a 1 p.m. special meeting, the board will begin a do-over.

Alexander has asked to be allowed out of his contract, which expires in July 2010, in order to join his new wife and her children in Connecticut. If that happens, the board will begin work on a laundry list of tasks to find a new superintendent.

Job No. 1 may be avoiding the pitfalls of the last search.

Two of Blanton's picks washed out after the Times found false statements in their resumes. Craig Bangtson of Kentucky overstated his years of experience, obscuring the fact that he'd been fired by a Georgia district after 18 months. And Lorenda Tiscornia of Duval County overstated the size of districts she'd worked in by up to 50 percent.

But Hernando business services director Heather Martin blamed that lapse on a search committee that hadn't been charged with verifying resume details.

"There wasn't someone from human resources doing the screening," she added, saying she had been out on maternity leave at the time. "We definitely learned a lesson from that. I think there will be more involvement from the HR side."

She said it might also be a good idea to visit the school districts of finalists, rather than just interviewing them here. Candidate site visits — which have been used in Pinellas County and are common in many parts of the country — allow board members to interview employees of the prospective superintendents and see how they lead.

"I think districts get more benefit in going to see the candidates in action," Martin said.

Board members weren't sure how they felt about that idea. And several have said they would consider hiring an interim superintendent for a year, rather than be forced to compress into five months a process that normally takes a year.

But they're in agreement about one thing: They wish they weren't on the verge of a new search.

"I hate this," said member Sandra Nicholson. "I didn't want to do this again."

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1431.

Hernando County schools begin search for a new superintendent — again 02/09/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 9, 2009 8:22pm]
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