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Five make the cut for schools' top post

Assistant Superintendent Wendy Tellone is the only woman and only Hernando County resident who will be considered for the vacant Hernando school superintendent's job.

Thursday night, the district's superintendent selection committee picked Tellone and four other candidates who will be considered for interviews by the School Board. Interim Superintendent Don Brown did not make the cut.

Board members will meet at 9 a.m. Friday at the Facilities Department on Mobley Road in Brooksville to decide on five finalists for the job.

Besides Tellone, the candidates chosen Thursday include Hubert Balboni of Panama City, Fla.; James Easton of Fort Wayne, Ind.; Robert Myers of Lafayette, Ind.; and John Sanders of Jackson, Miss.

They join William Abel of Galesburg, Ill.; William Beckley of Skokie, Ill.; and Walter Miller of Manatee County, chosen earlier, in the pool of candidates from which the five finalists will be chosen.

At Thursday night's meeting, 15 selection committee members reviewed the last 16 of 55 applications that were submitted to the district by the June 15 deadline.

Any applicant who received 10 or more "yes" votes was forwarded to the School Board for consideration.

Brown, who was executive director of instruction before he was chosen for the interim position earlier this year, received seven votes. Tellone, one of seven women who applied for the job, received the second-highest number of votes, with 12.

Neither Brown nor Tellone could be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Committee member Karen Kraatz warned that the number of votes candidates received from the committee is no indication that one is better than another. A vote signified only that a committee member believed a candidate had the qualifications the board wants in its next leader.

"We do not rate them," Kraatz said. "We felt that that is the School Board's decision."

The five finalists will come to Hernando in early July for interviews. On July 14, the board is scheduled to pick a replacement for Harold Winkler, who left the district in April to take another superintendent job in North Carolina.

The man or woman who is selected will begin work on Aug. 1.

IN THE RUNNING

Here are biographies on five additional candidates selected Thursday to be considered for Hernando school superintendent:

HUBERT BALBONI, 57, is the assistant superintendent of learning for the Bay County school system in Panama City, Fla. Before Balboni took his current position in 1992, he was assistant superintendent of business/administration for the 26,500-student Bay County district for three years. He also has worked as an assistant superintendent for the Washington County school district and as an instructor at Chipola Junior College in Marianna. A former adjunct professor for the University of West Florida and Florida State University, Balboni earned his doctorate in education from Auburn University.

JAMES EASTON has held numerous positions in his career as an educator, beginning as a classroom teacher in 1961. His experience includes stints as an assistant principal, principal and director of transportation. He is currently deputy superintendent for Fort Wayne Community Schools in Indiana and also served as the district's interim superintendent for the 1994-95 school year. Easton received his doctorate from Penn State University in 1977.

ROBERT MYERS, 53, is superintendent for a 7,500-student district in Lafayette, Ind. This is the fourth superintendent's position he has had in Indiana since 1979. He also has served as an assistant superintendent, curriculum director, elementary and middle school principal and an assistant high school principal in various Indiana school districts. Myers earned his master's and doctorate degrees from Purdue University.

JOHN SANDERS, a former social studies teacher, is deputy superintendent of the 33,000-student Jackson Public School District in Jackson, Miss. Prior to going to Mississippi, Sanders spent 23 years as a high school principal and six years as a superintendent in several Michigan school systems. He then left the education field for four years to become an associate with an architectural firm that specializes in building schools. Sanders received his doctorate in education from Wayne State University in Detroit.

WENDY TELLONE, 44, attended the University of South Florida, earning her master's degree in 1980. She is currently assistant superintendent of instructional services and human resources in Hernando County. Formerly the principal of Springstead High School, Tellone initiated the dual-enrollment program that enables students to receive college credit at Pasco-Hernando Community College while they are still in high school. In addition to being a classroom teacher, Tellone has been a guidance counselor, dean of students and assistant principal in Hernando.

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