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Hernando County School Board, District 5

School Board | District 5

Three challengers are looking to oust incumbent Cynthia Moore, who is seeking her second term on the School Board. It's the most crowded of the nonpartisan three board races. It features two longtime district employees, a self-proclaimed outsider and a passionate parent. If one of the contenders does not get more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary election, the top two vote-getters go to a runoff in November.


Anna Liisa Covell, 63


Owner of A.L. Covell Electric

Susan Duval, 67


Retired principal

Cynthia Moore, 72


School Board member

Robert Neuhausen, 46


Component engineer

Experience Covell hails from Wyandotte, Mich., but has called Hernando County home for 22 years. She has owned A.L. Covell Electric since she moved to the county. A member of the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission for eight years, she ran unsuccessfully for County Commission in 2000 and 2004. She has been the coordinator of the annual Veterans Appreciation Parade in downtown Brooksville since 2000. Duval retired this summer after her most recent 11-year stint as principal at Springstead High School. A St. Petersburg native, Duval came to Hernando in 1969 and began teaching at Brooksville Junior High School. She has been an administrator at Hernando High, Central High and Powell Middle schools. At Springstead, she played a key role in creating the district's first International Baccalaureate school. Moore, who is running for her second term on the board, boasts 40 years teaching experience in Hernando. She has an extensive institutional memory, having served as a teacher, summer school principal and volunteer over that period. Moore, a Mississippi native, is a volunteer in the district and often can be found behind the front desk at Brooksville Elementary. She has also served as president of the local teachers union. A 22-year resident of Hernando County, this is Neuhausen's third time running for office. He ran unsuccessfully for the School Board in 2008 and 2012. Neuhausen, a former electronics technician in the Navy, has three children who are currently in or have graduated from the Hernando schools. He has been active on the advisory councils at his kids' schools and a member of the Parent-Teacher-Student Association. He has volunteered with YMCA sports, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Education Covell has a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a master's in digital journalism and design from the University of South Florida. Duval has a master's degree in education administration and an education specialist degree from the University of South Florida. Moore earned a master's degree in education from Mississippi University for Women. She earned an education specialist degree from the University of South Florida. Neuhausen graduated with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of South Florida.
Platform She thinks the current board has failed to do its job, based on the decline in school performance. She thinks she has the background and business acumen to bring it up to an A grade and improve the budget. Duval supports quality career and college readiness educational programs, achievement for all students and fiscal accountability. More school resource officers and better cooperation among local governmental bodies both are badly needed. She also wants to continue to address bullying, low funding and faltering technology. He says the district's No. 1 problem is a lack of communication with students and parents.
What are the top issues confronting the district, and how would you fix them? Covell thinks the district needs to home in on low-performing schools through a better system of oversight. The district also needs to become digitally compliant, do a better job explaining Common Core standards to residents, create a short-term and long-term capital improvement plan, and do a full audit of school enrollment needs. She thinks the biggest issues are the budget and state/national standards for accountability. Moore thinks the district needs to find more money to repair schools, increase the number of students who receive busing and expand the number of school resource officers. She would also like to see more vocational education offerings. For Neuhausen, the top issues include: addressing the budget shortfall without cutting classroom spending, strengthening elective course offerings and improving communication with parents, students and community stakeholders.
Why should residents support you over your opponents? As an outsider in the district, Covell thinks she will be able to objectively look at concerns that have been overlooked. She also thinks her business knowledge is a big plus. With years of administrative experience in the district, Duval thinks she offers the right analytical, collaborative and leadership skills for complex times. "I am involved in the system and know what's going on," she said. Neuhausen has viewed the district as a parent and community member for nearly 20 years and has been active in the education of his children. He also bring's an engineer's mind-set to problem solving.
Stance on the penny sales tax? Covell thinks it was foolish to combine the school district's effort with the county. She thinks the board gambled with the future of Hernando students and stripped voters of a choice. She thinks it is imperative that the public supports the sales tax now that the county and district have combined. Moore voted to merge the school district's effort with the county's. He supported the district's proposal to renew its half-cent sales tax, but said it wasn't a good idea to combine efforts with the county.
Evaluate the superintendent She gives the superintendent a grade of C, based on performance data and certain personnel decisions. "Excellent personal and professional skills," Duval said. The superintendent listens well and with an open mind. The superintendent "appears to be working hard to bring our district up to high standards that the students and community deserve," Moore said. Neuhausen doesn't like the move to six-period instructional days, but views the superintendent favorably so far.
Assets Property, vehicles, IRA, bank accounts, business interests Property, retirement plans, bank accounts, annuity, family partnership, household goods Home, vehicle, IRA, money market account, savings, household goods Money market, checking, 401(k)
Liabilities Mortgage, loan Loan None Auto loan, mortgage
Income Salary Social Security, Florida DMS, salary Salary, retirement, Social Security Salary
Personal Married with two adult children Divorced Single Divorced with three teenage children
Website On Facebook: "Elect Anna Liisa Covell for Hernando County School Board District 5" SusanDuvalforSchoolBoard None


About the job: District 5 covers the northeastern part of the county, generally east of Brooksville to the Citrus and Sumter county lines. Board elections are countywide, but members must live in the district they represent. School Board terms are four years; the current annual salary is $34,426.

Hernando County School Board, District 5 08/14/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 14, 2014 4:55pm]
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