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Board debates search for superintendent

Pinellas County School Board members want to hear from the public before they decide on how to choose a replacement for Superintendent Scott Rose, who plans to retire this year. The board plans to set at least one public hearing. It will decide at a later date whether to search nationally, locally or statewide for a new superintendent.

Some board members said they don't see a need for a national search or an extended search.

No matter what the process, board member Corinne Freeman said, you can't know as much about an outsider as you know about an insider. "I have no problem with staying within," she said. "I like what I see inside."

Board member Bert Blomquist, too, questioned the need for a protracted and expensive search.

Blomquist said he watched what happened in Hillsborough County recently. "I didn't think they got a real strong pool of applicants over there. They had a real strong internal candidate, and people knew that."

Deputy superintendent Walter Sickles was chosen as Hillsborough's


"I can't say that by spending the most money and the most time we're going to get the best process," Blomquist said.

Other board members disagreed.

A national search was conducted by Pinellas in 1981, and then Rose was chosen from within.

"I think one of the advantages that Dr. Rose had at the end of our search was that . . . we did give him the opportunity to stand against a national search," John Espey said. If he had been chosen without the national search, Espey said, "there would always be the question of, 'Was he the best candidate?' " Ron Walker said he, too, favors a national search.

"There may be a Scott Rose out there someplace," he said. "If we're going to be the 20th largest (school district), we also need to be among the 20 best. . . . To say let's not waste our time looking, I think, would be shortsighted."

Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, told the board that a national search would cost about $30,000. The earliest the board probably could expect to choose a superintendent with such a search would be about mid-July, he said.

Rose, who announced his retirement early this month, has said he will retire anywhere betweenJune 30 and Dec. 31, but set Sept. 30 as his target date.