LARGO — Someone who believes in the arts. Someone who will prioritize reading. Someone willing to expand magnet programs and inspire staff innovation.
Pinellas County School Board members on Wednesday night heard these and other ideas from community members eager to share what they want in a superintendent, and how exactly they believe search should go.
"The same old search approach will yield the same old candidates," said Craig Sher, chairman of the Pinellas Education Foundation, calling on board members to conduct an "exhaustive national search" that includes aggressive recruiting of sitting executives who otherwise might not apply.
Board members heard from 18 people, including representatives of the school employees unions, music educators, art educators, the Pinellas County Council of PTAs and an alliance of churches, as well as from some board meeting regulars.
While several speakers asked board members not to limit themselves to those with traditional experience, Marshall Ogletree of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association cautioned that whoever it is "should have an understanding and support for public education in their heart, mind and soul."
Florida School Boards Association executive director Wayne Blanton told those gathered that he's already heard from some impressive candidates, though no one has formally applied.
Blanton encouraged School Board members and others not to be shy about doing their own recruiting.
"That's part of the process," he said.
Advertisements for the $225,000 to $275,000 position are expected to appear in Education Week magazine, the New York Times, the Tampa Bay Times and on Monster.com.
The board hopes to vote in September on a candidate to replace superintendent John Stewart, who is expected to depart in December.
Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at (727) 893-8707 or email@example.com.