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Pasco County School Board approves three principal appointments

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County's school principal lineup is nearly complete.

Just two top jobs remain open after the School Board on Tuesday approved three new appointments:

• Steve Van Gorden, principal of Hudson Middle, will take the helm at Zephyrhills High. He replaces Gerri Painter, who resigned unexpectedly during spring break.

• Yvonne Reins, principal of Sunray Elementary, will move to Cox Elementary. She takes over from Leila Mizer, who decided to leave the school after 13 years as principal. Mizer will become a principal on assignment to the district curriculum department.

• Lee Anne Yerkey, assistant principal of Richey Elementary, won a promotion to the principal's office at Sunray.

Superintendent Heather Fiorentino next must fill the slot Van Gorden leaves behind at Hudson Middle. She also must find someone to take over Centennial Middle when Tom Rulison retires at the end of the academic year.

"It never ends," said Fiorentino, who has appointed 10 principals since January.

Luckily, she continued, the district has a number of qualified people in its administrator pools after an aggressive push to get more educators through its leadership development program.

"We're making sure our principals are ready . . . and we're giving them lots of opportunities," she said. "Sometimes it is very difficult to choose just one."

In selecting new principals, Fiorentino and her team look at three key factors: the applicant's qualities, the school's needs and the community's requirements. In the case of Zephyrhills High, for instance, she said it came down to Van Gorden's experience leading a school, as both candidates could succeed there.

Yerkey, who has worked in Pasco County schools since 1993, said she was thrilled to get the chance to lead Sunray.

"I really feel like with this one, it's the right time, the right place," she said. "This is a good blessing for me."

She planned to use the end of the school year to get to know the school, its staff and students so she can begin planning over the summer. Sunray has made great academic strides, she said, and it can go even farther.

Yerkey hoped to bring some of the methods that helped Richey Elementary become an A-rated school along with her.

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


In other business Tuesday, the School Board:

• Delayed its decision on the fate of after-school programs at San Antonio Elementary.

• Approved the 2009-10 student code of conduct.

• Discussed district rules relating to bounced checks, and learned that the district's hiring of a collection agency has decreased the number of delinquent and noncollectable accounts.

• Heard from United School Employees of Pasco representatives that employees are fretting about possible layoffs. Chairman Frank Parker reiterated that the board has set as its top priorities to avoid layoffs and keep benefits intact.

Pasco County School Board approves three principal appointments 05/05/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 5, 2009 9:07pm]
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