MOON LAKE — For the third time in less than a year, Moon Lake Elementary School is looking for a new principal.
Cara Allen, who took over the school in August, has resigned effective Feb. 13 to take a new job in a small New Jersey school district.
"I'm just moving back to my family," she said. "It was a difficult decision. But being close to my family right now is what I need."
The district has advertised the job, and plans to fill the job before Allen leaves. Already one person, Oakstead Elementary assistant principal Megan Hermansen, has applied for the post, which pays between $71,445 and $108,704.
The school's current assistant principal, Iveta Maska, is not in the principal pool and therefore is not eligible.
"We are looking for someone who is wanting to go to Moon Lake and stay at Moon Lake for three years, maybe longer," assistant superintendent for elementary schools David Scanga said. "This is not good for us. … Principals are key leaders in a community, so you want there to be stability."
Since March 2008, though, the school has anything but stability.
That's when Donna Busby left the school to open the district's newest elementary, Veterans, in Wesley Chapel. After her departure, the district took the fairly unusual step of appointing a new leader to Moon Lake who came from outside the county.
Superintendent Heather Fiorentino said Susan Barcellino seemed to share Pasco's education philosophy and appeared to be a perfect fit to the district. However, Barcellino lasted only until August before resigning to return to Collier County.
Fiorentino then appointed Allen, who had been principal at Mary Giella Elementary with no plans to depart that school. She accepted the reassignment and moved to Moon Lake just days before the start of the new school year.
Now Allen is on her way out.
Scanga said he expected to hear from parents and staff members who are upset about the revolving door on the principal's office. He said he will challenge those people to make the latest transition succeed as they, along with the students, make up the backbone of the school.
The changes "really have nothing to do with that school," Scanga said, noting the school's improved academic performance over time. "For Moon Lake, it's finding the person who's going to be around for a while — a long while."
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.