NEW PORT RICHEY — Cotee River Elementary School didn't expect to need a new leader.
Then principal Barbara Kleinsorge, who took over in early 2007, announced she needed to take a personal leave to tend to family matters. She departed two weeks ago, leaving a vacancy that district officials looked to fill quickly.
Four people applied. Lou Cerreta, a longtime Hillsborough schools administrator, won the post Thursday.
"He had a ton more experience" than the others, district spokeswoman Summer Romagnoli said. "We are excited to have him."
Cerreta most recently has led Advantage Academy of Hillsborough, a charter school. Before that, he was principal of Deer Park Elementary in Odessa, which he opened; and Cimino Elementary and Buckhorn Elementary, both in Valrico. He was an assistant principal for seven years at Gorrie Elementary in South Tampa, and a teacher at Hunter's Green Elementary for a year before that.
Active in many school activities, including Odyssey of the Mind and Dads Club, Cerreta led all of his schools to A grades while also making adequate yearly progress under federal standards. Cerreta is expected to begin within two weeks, pending School Board approval.
Kleinsorge will return to the district in January in a principal role at another school, Romagnoli said. Carole Baird, principal of Anclote Elementary, will be retiring at that time. It remains undecided whether Kleinsorge will take that job or land elsewhere as part of a larger move of people.
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.