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Members say search directions unclear

Several members of the committee that has helped review applications for Hernando's next school superintendent say the School Board did not give them enough direction or enough time.

The committee members were responding to a request made by board member Stephen Galaydick, who asked that each committee member write a justification for the superintendent candidates they chose.

Several committee members said the written reports that Galaydick asked for were not part of their original instructions.

Despite the disagreements, everyone seems to agree that the committee has selected people who are capable of being superintendent.

"I still firmly believe we came up with qualified people," said committee member Denise Gill, who is president of the Hernando County Council of Parent-Teacher Association. "We may have had a rough time getting there, and I don't mean that we're not secure with the search. I felt we did our job."

Board Chairman Jim Malcolm said he will take the committee's criticisms to heart. He also believes the best candidates were chosen.

"They did a tremendous job," Malcolm said. "They were given a nearly impossible task, and they performed it admirably, despite us."

Malcolm agreed that the board could have given clearer directions.

"That is something that could be vastly improved," Malcolm said.

The group's charge was to peruse resumes on their own time and then come to the weekly meetings prepared to vote on the candidates whose qualifications matched those outlined by the board.

The 16-member committee agreed that any candidate who received 10 or more yes votes would be forwarded to the School Board.

Then, at the committee's last meeting on June 22, Galaydick said he was displeased that there had been no discussion by committee members about the candidates they chose.

"I was disappointed," Galaydick said after the meeting. "Unfortunately . . . the only way to see who was chosen was by a show of hands with no discussion. (The School Board) wanted to extract information from them to help us make our decision."

However, the Rev. Robin Murray, chairman of the advisory group, said that Galaydick never made it clear that the board wanted group discussion about each of the candidates.

"We were charged to select names," Murray said. "We had gone over the applications. We weren't asked to have discussions. Just read whatever had been submitted to us."

Committee member Karen Kraatz agreed.

"Procedures from the School Board should be set in stone," Kraatz wrote in a letter to board members that accompanied her comments on the candidates. "A written list of exactly what the board expected from us would have kept the committee from getting off track and provided the flow of information that Steve Galaydick had expected."

Murray, in a lengthy critique of the selection process that accompanied his written comments on the candidates, also complained that the group only had a month to review 56 profiles.

"I don't know why the process had to be compacted into such a short time," Murray said. "When we switched to an appointed superintendent, the vote was taken in March, but it was nearly nine months before the superintendent was in place."

But in 1992, when the referendum to change from an elected to appointed superintendent was passed, then-Superintendent Dan McIntyre ran the district until Harold Winkler was chosen by a committee and came aboard in November 1992.

"(This year's) time line was beyond our making. You have a man leave, and you have to get someone in there in a hurry," Malcolm said.

Winkler left in April to accept a superintendent position in North Carolina.

There are now eight people who remain in the running for the job. There were nine, but Walter Miller, an assistant superintendent in Manatee County, withdrew his name Wednesday. Miller has accepted an associate superintendent position somewhere in Florida, but he declined to name the district because his new bosses have not announced his acceptance of the job.

School Board members will meet Friday to decide on five finalists they will interview for the job.

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