Carol Cook has made no secret of her readiness to retire from the Pinellas County School Board after 24 years representing north-central county.
Until now, though, Cook has been coy about whether she would seek a seventh term. Commenting during a board meeting on Tuesday, Cook announced she will not run for the District 5 seat again.
“The word is out,” she said. “The secret is loose.”
Four candidates have already filed paperwork declaring their intention to pursue the seat. They are Katie Blaxberg, Brad DeCorte, Stacy Geier and Bronson Oudshoff.
The race for the nonpartisan position has become political.
Board chairperson Lisa Cane reacted to Cook’s announcement with disappointment. “We are not happy about that,” Cane said.
Board member Caprice Edmond wished Cook well. “It’s been great serving with you,” Edmond said.
Cook noted that she has a year remaining on her term and plans to remain involved, even after leaving the board. Lately, she has been training board members in other counties on how to represent the public and understand state laws and policies for governing boards.
The board on Tuesday named Cook as vice chairperson for her final year in her seat. It also appointed Laura Hine as its chairperson.
Prior to her election, Cook spent nine years on the Florida PTA board of directors. She also is a former Pinellas County teacher.
On the board, she has served several terms as the chairperson, frequently representing the county at the Florida School Boards Association. She has served on the Value Adjustment Board and as a director of the Pinellas Education Foundation, among other roles.
Cook and her husband, Ed, have lived in Clearwater for more than 40 years. They have two children, who are graduates of Pinellas County schools.
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