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Pinellas narrows superintendent finalists to three

The Pinellas School Board on Tuesday narrowed the field of finalists in its superintendent search, setting up an intensive second interview Monday that will give the public a role in the process.

Board members agreed in a workshop to bring back Alberto M. Carvalho, 43, associate superintendent of Miami-Dade schools; Nicholas M. Gledich, 55, chief operations officer for Orange County schools; and Julie Janssen, 59, interim superintendent in Pinellas.

Another finalist, Sherrie Nickell, was not invited back. Board members said they found much to like about Nickell, an associate superintendent for Polk County schools, but added she did not have the level of experience they were seeking.

Board members, meeting in a workshop, took about 50 minutes to set the final field. They took turns around the table to get a consensus on which candidates they wanted back for a second interview based on their interviews with them last week.

Six board members said they wanted to bring back Janssen. Board member Jane Gallucci said she was unsure.

Four board members — Nancy Bostock, Janet Clark, Carol Cook and Gallucci — wanted to bring Carvalho back for a second interview. Board member Peggy O'Shea said he was not in her top two but later agreed to have him back.

Board members Mary Brown and Linda Lerner praised Carvalho but said he did not have the kind of experience the district needed and would not be a good fit for Pinellas. Both said he should not be invited back.

Initially, only Brown, Cook and Lerner said they wanted to invite Gledich for a second interview. But, after discussing Gledich's interview last week with the board, at least five said they wanted to have him back.

In another notable development, two board members — Lerner and Brown — clearly indicated an early preference for Janssen, who has been with the district for 29 years.

Referring to superintendent talent, Lerner said, "I want to grow within."

Brown made similar remarks, saying, "I feel strongly that I would like to look from within. We have to grow from within."

Other board members voiced concern that the two appeared to have made a decision with the process still unfolding.

"I'm beginning to sense that some minds are already made up," board member Carol Cook said. "That disturbs me. … I see a little bit of digging in."

Brown denied she had made up her mind.

Several board members praised Carvalho as a smart, well-spoken administrator who had handled major projects in Miami with skill. Lerner noted, however, that he had never been a principal.

Board members said they liked that Gledich was a "data-driven" administrator with experience at several levels of a school system.

But some said they questioned whether he would have the "people skills" or charisma to lead the district.

The board did not discuss Janssen because it was clear she would get a second interview.

The board will interview the finalists again from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday.

Also Monday, a community forum is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Stavros Institute, 12100 Starkey Road in Largo.

The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for anyone interested in meeting the candidates. A moderated question-and-answer period with each finalist will follow.

The board has scheduled a workshop next Wednesday to make a final decision.

The initial interviews with the three candidates can be viewed on the district's Web site, www.pcsb.org, by clicking on the link in the "pcsNEWS" box.

Thomas C. Tobin can be reached at tobin@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8923.

Remaining candidates

Pinellas narrows superintendent finalists to three 09/02/08 [Last modified: Saturday, September 6, 2008 4:13pm]
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