The Hernando School Board District 4 race offers two strong candidates in Gustave "Gus'' Guadagnino and Robert Neuhausen. Both should be familiar names to voters because of prior runs for office. The winner in this nonpartisan race will need to help guide the district through continued financial uncertainty and to select a new superintendent to replace the retiring Bryan Blavatt.
Neuhausen, who ran unsuccessfully for the School Board four years ago, has called for the superintendent's job to be elected rather than appointed by a board majority. It is an idea that should be abandoned because it puts a premium on political skills and name recognition rather than education and management experience. A current board majority already said it does not support the proposal and Neuhausen, if elected, would be wise to focus his energy on more substantive matters facing the school district.
Despite that disagreeable platform plank, Neuhausen, 44, is the preferable candidate. He has no shortage of other suggestions and provides thoughtful ideas on school issues like increasing parental participation; improving communication by holding school board meetings in schools; bettering board member understanding of the organization by working one day each month in a different district department; and potentially saving costs by scheduling extra curricular activities on just four days each week.
He also will bring a parent's perspective to the job. Neuhausen's three children attend Hernando public schools, and he has spent a decade volunteering on school advisory councils and parent-teacher associations. It's a ground-level view of the schools that is in short supply on the current board.
Guadagnino, 58, owner of Joni Industries and Seaboard Pencil, has run twice previously for supervisor of elections. He boasts a strong business acumen and an impressive resume of community volunteering that provided board exposure to the education system and its financial needs. He has been president of the private foundations supporting Hernando schools and Pasco Hernando Community College, and has been a board member for Take Stock in Children and the Early Learning Coalition. He'd like to capitalize on those ties to expand the district's relationships with area businesses to boost corporate sponsorships and to establish better internship and mentoring opportunities for students
Guadagnino's experience gives him an appreciable overview of the district, but Neuhausen's nuts-and-bolts thinking and ground-up ideas will be a stronger addition to the board at this time. In the Nov. 6 election, the Tampa Bay Times recommends voters elect Robert Neuhausen for Hernando School Board, District 4.