Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas School Board picks Julie Janssen as interim superintendent

Julie Janssen talks to reporters Thursday in Largo. She has been the top deputy under Clayton Wilcox since 2006. She graduated from Boca Ciega High in 1966. 


Julie Janssen talks to reporters Thursday in Largo. She has been the top deputy under Clayton Wilcox since 2006. She graduated from Boca Ciega High in 1966. 

Faced with an uncertain future, the Pinellas County School Board turned to a familiar face Thursday, informally choosing veteran educator Julie M. Janssen to be interim superintendent.

Janssen, the top deputy under outgoing superintendent Clayton Wilcox since 2006, will be the first female superintendent in the 96-year history of Pinellas public schools.

"For the good of the system, I felt we needed to go forward, and we have an able and perfectly wonderful candidate in front of us," board member Jane Gallucci said.

"It was a good feeling," Janssen said after a board workshop that also dealt with a $43-million budget deficit and the possibility of wage cuts for thousands of employees.

The board intends to make the decision official with a vote at its next regular meeting, on May 13. After that, Janssen, 59, will carry the title "designate" interim superintendent until June 3, when Wilcox departs for a job at Scholastic Corp. She will lead the district until the board finds a permanent replacement through a national search.

The board could not agree on whether Janssen will be able to apply for the permanent job. Board members Nancy Bostock, Carol Cook and Gallucci said they feared that candidates would hesitate to apply if they perceived that an internal candidate had an advantage. They urged the board to exclude Janssen from the process, with the promise that she'll continue as a deputy.

Janssen opened the way for Thursday's decision when she let it be known she would accept the interim job under those terms.

But board members Mary Brown, Linda Lerner and Peggy O'Shea said Janssen should be allowed to apply for the permanent job. Board member Janet Clark did not take a position, leaving the issue unresolved.

The board will seek the advice of Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, who will lead the national search.

"If they decide with confidence that they could line me up against the rest of (the candidates), I'll do that," Janssen said. "And if not, I really am very happy with my decision."

The cost of the search will be $6,000 plus expenses, for a total of up to $25,000.

Noting the budget situation, Clark pressed the board to enforce a clause in Wilcox's contract that requires him to pay the cost of a superintendent search, up to $60,000, if he "unilaterally" terminates his contract before June 30.

But other board members noted that the separation was not unilateral — that they agreed he could leave on June 3. If the board were to rescind that decision, Wilcox would stay until June 30, negating the obligation.

Board members said the arrangement works out to be cheaper anyway. If Wilcox were to stay until June 30, the district would have to pay him $28,000 in salary. Avoiding that cost saves more money than the district would gain by collecting $25,000 for the search.

Janssen will negotiate with School Board attorney Jim Robinson about a pay increase to match her increased responsibilities. Her current salary is $130,000 plus a $3,000 stipend for her doctoral degree.

Janssen was born in Belize, but her Pinellas County roots run deep. She attended Disston Junior High and graduated from Boca Ciega High in 1966.

She joined the district in 1970 as a teacher at Perkins Elementary but soon returned to Belize, where she taught for nine years. She came back to Pinellas in 1981 and taught at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle, Pasadena Elementary and Pinellas Technical Education Centers.

By 1983, she was a math teacher at Lakewood High, and in 1991 she became an assistant principal. She became principal at Countryside High in 1998 and moved to St. Petersburg High as principal in 2004.

Janssen has a bachelor's degree in education from the University of South Florida and a master's degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. She earned her doctoral degree from USF in 2001.

A Treasure Island resident, she has four grown children.

She said she's a good listener with a long and varied history in the district.

The budget crisis will be a struggle, she said, but she noted that she's been deeply involved with Wilcox in looking for cuts, including a proposed 2 percent wage cut.

"I think when teachers see transparency, that we're not hiding anything, I really believe that we'll pull together,'' Janssen said.

Thomas C. Tobin can be reached at or (727) 893-8923

Pinellas School Board picks Julie Janssen as interim superintendent 05/02/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 6, 2008 9:28am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  2. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'


    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  3. Plan a fall vacation at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens when crowds are light


    Now that the busy summer vacation season is ending, Floridians can come out to play.

    Maria Reyna, 8, of Corpus Cristi, TX. eats chicken at the Lotus Blossom Cafe at the Chinese pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  Epcot is celebrating it's 35th year as the upcoming Food and Wine Festival kicks off once again.
  4. USF spends $1.5 million to address growing demand for student counseling


    TAMPA — As Florida's universities stare down a mental health epidemic, the University of South Florida has crafted a plan it hopes will reach all students, from the one in crisis to the one who doesn't know he could use some help.

    A student crosses the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where visits to the school's crisis center more than doubled last year, part of a spike in demand that has affected colleges across the country. The university is addressing the issue this year with $1.5 million for more "wellness coaches," counselors, online programs and staff training. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. PTA treasurer at Pinellas school accused of stealing $5,000


    The treasurer of the Parent-Teacher Association at a Pinellas County elementary school faces a felony fraud charge after she was accused of stealing from the organization to pay her credit card and phone bills.

    Lisa McMenamin, 50, of Tarpon Springs, is facing felony charges of scheming to defraud the Brooker Creek Elementary Parent-Teacher Association, where she served as treasurer. She is accused of stealing $5,000 to pay credit card and phone bills. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]