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Interview process begins for three Pinellas school superintendent candidates

LARGO — Three people. Two days. Forty-five interviews.

As Pinellas County School Board members today prepare to vet three candidates for the highest-paying job in the district, they say they will try to look past some of the negative hype about the wannabe superintendents and the search that discovered them.

"It's tough being a superintendent," said board member Linda Lerner. "I commend anyone who would apply … Some of us may have concerns about one or more candidates, but we are all going in there to interview possible superintendents and this board will do that."

Candidates Mike Grego, Christian Cutter and Constance Jones will face two days of back-to-back interviews with district officials, including 75 minutes each in public discussion with the seven-member board. Thursday, they will meet privately with individual board members.

Grego, 55, is a former Hillsborough County assistant superintendent who went on to be superintendent in Osceola County and now teaches at the University of Central Florida.

Jones, 62, is chief academic officer in Lee County schools and a former trainer with Core Knowledge Foundation.

Cutter, 43, is assistant superintendent of elementary education for Douglas County, Colo., School District, where he led a controversial voucher effort.

Lerner three weeks ago questioned some inconsistencies on Cutter's resume.

Leaders from the Pinellas Education Foundation have criticized the search as not being aggressive enough or having a national scope.

Board chairwoman Robin Wikle, who at one time pushed to reopen the search rather than interview from the pool of candidates, agreed with Lerner on Tuesday.

"I support us moving forward in a positive way," she said.

Jones, the candidate from Lee County, attended the meeting.

Board members on Tuesday agreed to videotape the interviews and post them on the district's website for public viewing.

Though the board doesn't start its interviews until 11 a.m., it will meet in a 9 a.m. workshop at 301 Fourth St. SW in Largo to formulate interview questions.

The board will reconvene on Aug. 28 to discuss the candidates and decide what to do next.

The superintendency could pay $225,000 to $275,000. It comes open in December when John Stewart, hired a year ago as interim after the board fired Julie Janssen, resigns.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at (727) 893-8707 or rcatalanello@tampabay.com.

Interview process begins for three Pinellas school superintendent candidates 08/21/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 9:11am]
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