NEW PORT RICHEY — The biggest challenges superintendent Kurt S. Browning sees facing the Pasco County School District have to do with money: funding education to make sure programs are rigorous and minds are stretched.
He also said that in the 2015-16 school year, the school district is planning to open a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) magnet school in Land O'Lakes.
Mr. Browning came to our gifted class of third- and fourth-graders on May 7 to answer students' questions.
He was very funny and sometimes very serious.
In his free time, "I work," he said. He also gardens and he loves the outside. He even owns a peach grove.
In answer to my question about safety, he said:
Pasco has increased security after the Newtown shootings by adding gates to some schools and made sure teachers and students know procedures if there is a lockdown. He said the district is making sure schools have only one point of entry, but they don't want to make schools look scary.
His favorite part of his job is being in classrooms with children, he said. Mr. Browning, 55, left the Florida secretary of state office to become superintendent in Pasco because he was tired of being in Tallahassee and his wife, Mrs. Browning, a school nurse, was living in Pasco County, he said.
Joshua Atchley, a third-grader in the class, said the superintendent's visit was "really cool and I enjoyed listening to his answers and thoughts on the questions. I think 'the wow' is that he likes to farm, garden, and work in his free time and that he owns his own peach grove."
Madeline Morrissey, a fourth-grader in the class, said her "wow" from the Browning visit was that he said the FCAT probably won't be replaced with Discovery Education testing but with "something else." She said the interview was "very cool and professional."