Sunday, June 24, 2018
Education

Three administrative appointments announced for Hernando schools

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School District announced three high-level administrative appointments Wednesday, including a new K-8 school principal, an interim high school principal and a new director of student services.

The decisions aren't short on intrigue.

Superintendent Bryan Blavatt appointed Mary-Grace Surrena to the student services position after a review committee said Surrena, a school psychologist, was the best person for the job.

Surrena previously had held the job for eight months, but lost it in May when Blavatt decided against reappointing her. He appointed Felita Lott, who left at the end of June to take a job in Pinellas County. The position was left vacant.

Surrena had been groomed for years to take over the director's position from Jim Knight, who retired in September 2011 after two decades in the job.

In June, he spoke out before the Hernando School Board in opposition to Blavatt's decision not to reappoint Surrena.

"I have never known of one administrator in this district that was demoted in less than one year," Knight said. "Prior to tonight, all were given a year to improve or placed in a different school or in a similar position."

Knight said Surrena had received nothing but excellent or outstanding evaluations.

Surrena said at the time she was planning on pursuing her legal options. And in a letter to the School Board and Blavatt, a lawyer for Surrena, Karen Gaffney, said that her client was wrongfully not reappointed and was discriminated against because of her gender.

Blavatt had said Surrena was "too nice" for the position and that "there was a perception out there that she was too soft," the letter said.

Blavatt said on Wednesday he was assured by his staff that Surrena was the best available candidate for the post.

"Obviously, the staff vetted her and made that decision," he said. "It's never been a situation involving my personal feelings or whatever. If she's the best person out there at the present time, then I've got to do it."

Surrena has been with the district for 24 years.

"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to serve the district in a leadership position again," she said.

Blavatt also made two high school principal announcements.

Retired principal Marvin Gordon will be the interim principal at Central High School, replacing retiring principal Joe Clifford as the district continues to look for a permanent replacement.

Clifford's last day is Jan. 26.

Blavatt again said he accepted the review committee's recommendation, which was to not recommend any of the 12 candidates who applied. They didn't name any finalists.

"It's not alarming," he said. "I think a lot of it is timing."

He said leaving midyear is more complicated, with many principals not wanting to exit their current schools.

The district will advertise the position again.

Gordon, who retired in 2011, was most recently a principal at Spring Hill Elementary and before that was a longtime principal at Parrott Middle School. He was also a Hernando High principal.

At Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics, assistant principal Michael Maine will take over for retiring principal Sue Stoops. He was one of three assistant principals with the school.

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. Tweet him @HernandoTimes.

Comments
Next step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

Next step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

TAMPA — As chief of diversity for the Hillsborough County School District, Minerva Spanner-Morrow tries to keep her expectations realistic."We want the best of the best and I know that’s very difficult," she told principals last week as they prepared...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE — With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Board’s close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano — and days before her time as head of the district runs out — school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Published: 06/20/18
Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

BROOKSVILLE — As schools and districts across the state await their 2018 grades from the Florida Department of Education, the standardized test scores that factor into those ratings and were dropped last week show slight gains in Hernando County.The ...
Published: 06/20/18
Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

An early analysis of the Pasco County School District’s 2018-2019 budget projects a deficit of more than a million dollars, with more than half of that coming from a shortfall in funding new school safety requirements.Costs to hire and train 53 new s...
Published: 06/20/18
New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

ST. PETERSBURG — Originally pitched as a nine- or 10-story, 550-bed dorm for the overcrowded University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, USF’s latest residence hall project will likely look much different by the time it’s done.For starters, it...
Published: 06/20/18
Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Am I missing something in the — pardon the expression — brouhaha over the renaming of the University of South Florida Sun Dome to the Yuengling Center? In trading a college arena’s longtime name for that of a big-name beer brewed ne...
Published: 06/20/18

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

DADE CITY —Just a few weeks into summer vacation, Pasco Middle School student Jade Neal, 14, was back at school, delving into a challenging STEM activity on force in motion, as the theme to Mission Impossible played in the background.The assignment? ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18