BROOKSVILLE — It's no secret that Hernando schools superintendent Bryan Blavatt is retiring next summer.
That makes Tuesday's appointment of longtime Hernando educator and principal Ken Pritz as the district's second assistant superintendent all the more interesting.
"This will provide the (School) Board an opportunity to look at viable internal candidates," Blavatt said.
Pritz, who has been the principal at Hernando High School since 2008, joins assistant superintendent Sonya Jackson as the second-highest-ranking officials in the district. Both have expressed their interested in becoming superintendent in the past.
In 2010, Pritz and Jackson, then the interim superintendent, competed for the top job before eventually losing out to Blavatt.
Blavatt is known for grooming a successor in his previous job in Kentucky. When he was appointed in Hernando, School Board members said they hoped his mentoring would bring forth a person to eventually take his place.
Blavatt called the Pritz appointment "a slam dunk."
"It's going to give an opportunity to provide some more institutional memory," he said. "It also gives us the opportunity to work with Ken for a year and Sonya so that whoever comes in will have a nice easy transition next year."
Hernando Classroom Teachers Association President Joe Vitalo, who sat on the committee that recommended Pritz, praised the move to promote Pritz.
"He definitely understands Hernando County," he said. "He gets it. He's improved the expectations at Hernando High School, moving it from D school to a B."
Vitalo said that Pritz has high respect across the county and is known as someone who is willing to listen and open-minded.
"He's about getting the job done while respecting the people doing it," he said.
Pritz beat out a Pasco County principal and a third candidate from Maryland for the assistant superintendent's post. The job pays a maximum of $96,000, with an additional $26,000 for benefits.
"I'm excited about doing something different," he told the Times on Tuesday. "I'm going to miss being at Hernando (High School), but this is a move in my career that I felt I needed to make. I'm ready for the challenge."
His official title will be the assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, and he will be responsible for working with principals, overseeing the technology department, the district's instructional TV network, adult education, the curriculum department and the department of school improvement. He will begin his new job July 30.
The move caps Blavatt's long quest to add a top-ranking administrator to his staff.
A divided School Board approved the second assistant superintendent's position in early May as part of an effort to reorganize the district office. It was Blavatt's fourth attempt to restructure district headquarters to his liking. He said the reorganization will also save the district money.
Pritz got his start in the Hernando district in 1989 as an administrative intern. He moved up the ranks from teacher to assistant principal to principal. He's also had experience as director of school services and facility and support operations for the district.
Pritz has 22 years of administrative experience in Hernando, including seven in the district office.
When asked Tuesday whether he would apply for the soon-to-be-vacant superintendent's job, he responded coyly:
"You never know what might happen in the future."
Danny Valentine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1432.