Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Longleaf principal departs as Pasco schools play musical chairs

Arlene Bodden plans on traveling the country in an RV.

Arlene Bodden plans on traveling the country in an RV.

TRINITY — Arlene Bodden had a simple rule as principal of Longleaf Elementary School: No crying allowed.

"It applies to me leaving, too," said Bodden, who has led the school since it opened eight years ago.

To avoid tears, Bodden held off revealing her decision to retire in August, a year earlier than planned.

"I waited until my students were all gone, and then I waited until my staff was all gone. Then I made the call," she said. "I don't do goodbyes very well."

Bodden's surprise departure left room for yet another change in the Pasco school district administration that has seen significant turnover since superintendent Kurt Browning took office in November.

Browning has promoted four principals to district-level jobs, appointed new leaders in 20 percent of the schools and shuffled several department heads amid a reorganization. For the June 18 School Board meeting, the administration has reappointed most sitting administrators to their roles.

But additional changes are likely, assistant superintendent Amelia Larson said.

"We still have not interviewed for all the open positions," Larson said. "There will be more moves."

Five elementary schools have principal vacancies, and the district has a handful of top jobs including one learning community executive director spot. Larson expected that the people filling those slots will create additional shifts in the ranks.

For the time being, the latest round of changes proposed by the superintendent's office focuses on assistant principals.

Longtime Sunlake High assistant principal Deborah Lepley, who accused former principal Garry Walthall of discrimination, was not reappointed to any leadership post. District curriculum supervisor Lori Wiggins was named to a newly created position of eSchool assistant principal. And elementary guidance counselor supervisor Stacey Brazier was appointed to an assistant principal job at John Long Middle School.

Sunlake and Fivay high schools, both under scrutiny for their performance, will get two new assistant principals. And a handful of elementary assistant principals will swap schools.

"Assistant principals need different experiences," Larson said.

Larson said she hopes to convince Bodden not to leave just yet. She praised Bodden's ideas for A-rated Longleaf, particularly relating to an arts-centered curriculum, and wanted her to guide the concept forward.

"But I understand where she's coming from," Larson said.

Bodden, 58, has a retired husband, seven grandkids and an RV waiting to take her on travels around the country. "The motor is running," she said.

So after 36 years with Pasco schools, Bodden decided the time had come to think about other things in life than school.

"I'm one of those fortunate people who has been able to do what I was meant to do," she said. "Now it's time for us to do some playing while we're still young enough."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at

Longleaf principal departs as Pasco schools play musical chairs 06/11/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 7:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No. 12 FSU, freshman QB James Blackman struggle in 27-21 loss to N.C. State


    TALLAHASSEE — Whatever was left of No. 12 Florida State's College Football Playoff hopes suffered a massive, likely fatal, blow Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

    Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Nyqwan Murray (8) carries during the first quarter of the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.
  2. Trump tells Warriors star Stephen Curry that White House visit is off


    SOMERSET, N.J. — Stephen Curry and President Donald Trump agree on one thing: The Golden State star is not going to the White House anytime soon.

    Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry poses for photos during NBA basketball team media day Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. [Associated Press]
  3. For starters: Rays at Orioles, facing another old friend in Jeremy Hellickson


    UPDATE, 3:29: Here is the Rays lineup, with Duda at 1B and Morrison the DH:

  4. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. Charles Bradley, acclaimed Florida soul singer, dies at 68


    Acclaimed Florida R&B powerhouse Charles Bradley, whose raw, pained voice earned him the nickname the Screaming Eagle of Soul, has died of cancer at 68, his representatives announced Saturday.

    Charles Bradley performed at the 2016 Gasparilla Music Festival.