Friday, January 19, 2018
Education

Pinellas School Board members committed to 'process' in superintendent search

LARGO — The Pinellas County School Board spent thousands of dollars in the search for the best superintendent and now they're poised to spend more to bring in three people for two days of interviews.

But when you talk with Pinellas County School Board members about the folks they're bringing in, you hear very little enthusiasm.

Linda Lerner wants to eliminate one from the interview altogether. Terry Krassner didn't vote in favor of bringing any of the three finalists in for interviews. Robin Wikle and Glen Gilzean wanted to hold off on interviews and expand the search. And Janet Clark, Peggy O'Shea and Carol Cook say they want to meet the three, but none of them sound particularly electrified.

So, why is the Pinellas County School Board moving ahead? Commitment to "process," they say.

"This is what the majority of the board said they wanted to do," chairwoman Wikle said Monday, a moment before reconsidering why she herself advocated devotion to the process.

Wikle on Tuesday made an overture to call a Special Board meeting to continue the board's discussion about whether board members still share that conviction to move forward with the interviews. "I just want to make sure as a board that we're all still on the same page with the same process for superintendent."

She backed away from calling the meeting, though, after sensing a lack of support from some of her fellow members.

"It's too late now," Lerner said, reminding the others that they voted 5-2 a week earlier against her motion to call a special board meeting to discuss questions surrounding Christian Cutter's application.

"I think the board had its chance," Lerner continued, "and voted it down."

The board is poised to spend about $1,550 on flights, hotel and meals for the candidates when they come to meet the board Aug. 22-23.

Scheduled to interview are Cutter, an assistant superintendent for the Douglas County School District in Colorado; Constance Jones, chief academic officer for Lee County schools; and Mike Grego, a former Osceola County superintendent who also served as assistant superintendent in Hillsborough.

Last week, the board voted 4-3 to ask Cutter for a written explanation regarding Lerner's questions about Cutter.

Cutter wrote on his resume that his title is "assistant superintendent," without pointing out that he is one of two. He also included some material about his "guiding principles" and "beliefs" without attributing it to its source, a former Florida superintendent who now leads a Colorado Springs school district that Cutter once worked for.

Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association who the district agreed to pay $20,000 to conduct the search, declined to deliver the board's request to Cutter. Blanton instead informed the board that Cutter is open to discussing the matter in public or one-on-one.

Several board members said they were surprised by Blanton's decision.

"Technically, his job is done," said Gilzean, who advocated looking beyond FSBA from the start, even though it offered a more inexpensive search than a national firm would have provided. "You get what you pay for."

Regardless of the board's seemingly lukewarm temperature about the pool so far, Clark said she too is in favor of following through with the original plan: "We have at least two viable candidates," she said, referring to Jones and Grego.

Board member O'Shea said she's "interested" in all three. And even though she stops short of saying she's "excited" about them, she said it would be unwise to abort the process now based on board members' assumptions.

"We may be very excited after the 22nd or the 23rd," she said.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at (727) 893-8707 or [email protected]

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story included inaccurate dates for superintendent candidates. This story has been corrected to reflect the actual dates, Aug. 22-23.

Comments

More than 400 apply to Pasco technical high school

School choice for 2018-19 is in full swing, and district officials said they’ve been pleased with the interest they’ve seen so far.The window for applying to the district’s magnet schools closed Jan. 12, except for applications for the new Wendell Kr...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

"On Nov. 3, 2017, the Tallahassee Police Department responded to 1012 Buena Vista Drive … in reference to a death investigation."So begins a charging document in the case of Andrew Coffey, the 20-year-old Florida State University student who was foun...
Published: 01/18/18
In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In the state capitol on Wednesday, lawmakers breezed through the bullet points of a higher education bill. They skimmed past a hot-button proposal to consolidate the University of South Florida System into a single university without a peep of pushba...
Published: 01/18/18
Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

TAMPA — They were hoping to receive between $15 million and $17 million in scheduled pay raises. But the Hillsborough County school district says it can’t afford to give its teachers anywhere near that much, while the teachers say they deserve nothin...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

NEW PORT RICHEY — At age 28, things were really shaping up for Joel Santos-Gonzalez. Fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher, he had just completed his third year at Gulf Middle School."I always liked to talk to people on an intellectual ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
In Pinellas and beyond, deadlines for school choice are closing in

In Pinellas and beyond, deadlines for school choice are closing in

It’s decision time in Pinellas County and other local school districts as several school choice deadlines are upon us.For Pinellas families who want to apply for a magnet, fundamental or high school career program for the 2018-19 school year, the dea...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18
For FSU fraternity, a wild night turned tragic

For FSU fraternity, a wild night turned tragic

The night of initiation was the most that the brothers of Florida State University’s Pi Kappa Phi chapter said they had ever seen their pledge class drink.That was the plan, court records said: Pledges would arrive at the fraternity house Nov. 2 and ...
Published: 01/18/18
9 face hazing charges in death of Florida State fraternity pledge

9 face hazing charges in death of Florida State fraternity pledge

TALLAHASSEE — The death of a fraternity pledge from alcohol poisoning has led to hazing charges against nine Florida State University students.State attorney Jack Campbell filed charges on Wednesday in Leon County Court.All nine will be charged with ...
Published: 01/17/18
From the archive: USF St. Petersburg’s long journey to autonomy

From the archive: USF St. Petersburg’s long journey to autonomy

As the Florida Legislature considers undoing the current governance of the University of South Florida by folding the three branches of its system into one entity, here is a look at some Times coverage of the long-running struggle for independence at...
Published: 01/17/18
How a small campus grew into an independent USF St. Petersburg

How a small campus grew into an independent USF St. Petersburg

Just a satellite campus many decades ago, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg has managed to carve out considerable autonomy within the arms of the USF System. But a bill moving through the state House of Representatives could undo its sep...
Published: 01/17/18