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Roland Bavota is surprised to be reappointed Hernando County's school facilities chief

BROOKSVILLE — When Roland "Bo" Bavota reapplied for his former post as the school district's facilities director, he had no illusions about superintendent Wayne Alexander giving him the job back. But at least he was called in for an interview.

"I didn't think I had a snowball's chance in hell, to tell you the truth," Bavota said.

But that's exactly what happened.

Bavota, 61, learned Monday afternoon that he has been reappointed to the contractual post for another year. He beat out nine other applicants, including the current facilities director for the Orange County school district.

Alexander also stayed in-house to fill the position of maintenance director. He tapped custodial services manager Sean Arnold, 38, to succeed his former boss, Ken Hill, who retired last week at 53.

Alexander did not return messages seeking comment.

Bavota, who spent 13 years as manager of construction for Sun Oil Co. before coming to the school district in 2004, said that his reappointment shocked him, but that he appreciated Alexander's decision.

"I'm very happy to be staying with Hernando County schools," Bavota said. "I still have many things to get done and look forward to a successful year."

The two men had a headline-making disagreement this year over Alexander's decision to charge Bavota with "gross insubordination." Alexander alleged that Bavota purchased a $67,000 trash pulper without his permission and then tried to mislead Alexander when asked about it.

Bavota denied that.

"It's his feeling you're not on his team if you dare to ask a question or disagree," Bavota told the St. Petersburg Times last month.

When the ad for the facilities director job appeared on the district's human resources Web site in May, it seemed to be the death knell for Bavota's five-year tenure in Hernando.

Bavota decided to apply anyway. "I wanted to show that I was still interested in the position," Bavota said.

Bavota said last week's interview was short, but not confrontational. "It was cordial, to a degree," he said. "It's very odd interviewing for your own job.''

When asked Monday about the trash pulper incident, Bavota said: "I just think it was a great misunderstanding."

Bavota oversees millions of dollars worth of school construction projects, among other duties.

He will keep his current salary of $81,278.52. The range for the position is $66,572 up to $75,650, but Bavota brought with him years of management experience when he was hired, said Janice Piarulli, a data specialist in the human resources department.

Two School Board members, Pat Fagan and James Yant, had urged Alexander to reconsider his decision not to reappoint Bavota, arguing that Bavota had kept a close watch on construction projects, saving the district a substantial amount of money.

Alexander told the board members he would take it under advisement

Arnold, of Brooksville, worked as maintenance superintendent at a New York zoo before joining the district in 2005, according to his resume. He will start at $66,572, the minimum of the pay scale for the maintenance director post, but a jump from his current salary of about $48,000.

Arnold said he learned a lot from Hill.

"I'm really looking forward and doing some great things for the district," he said.

Alexander had recommended a merger of the facilities and maintenance departments to save about $800,000 annually, but board members rejected the move, saying they wanted to ensure that construction projects had proper oversight.

Meanwhile, a new committee is sifting through 16 applications for the new assistant superintendent position.

The seven-member committee, comprised of two teachers, a principal, two business owners and two district staffers, was slated to meet Monday afternoon. The committee will make recommendations to Alexander for finalists to interview for the assistant superintendent post. It's unclear why Alexander chose to create the committee.

There are three in-house candidates: Barbara Kidder, supervisor of professional development; Sonya Jackson, director of school services; and Jeff Yungmann, supervisor of curriculum.

Tony Marrero can be reached at tmarrero@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1431.

Roland Bavota is surprised to be reappointed Hernando County's school facilities chief 06/15/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 15, 2009 7:53pm]
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