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Tampa Police spokesman to take Pasco schools job

Steve Hegarty spent 10 years as Hillsborough schools public information officer before taking the police department post.

A familiar voice will begin speaking for a different agency next year, as Tampa Police spokesman Steve Hegarty heads to a like position in the Pasco County school district.

Steve Hegarty [ Tampa Police Department ]

Hegarty, a former 20-year education reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, is recommended to join the district in January. He would spend about three months learning about the system and transitioning into the top job now held by Linda Cobbe, who is scheduled to retire in March.

Superintendent Kurt Browning has asked the School Board to approve the appointment at its October 29 meeting. He said he has known Hegarty for years and was excited to bring someone with so much experience into the district.

Hegarty worked for a decade as chief communications officer for the Hillsborough County school district under then-superintendent MaryEllen Elia. When Elia was forced out, Hegarty soon followed.

He landed at the Tampa Police Department, where he has spent the past four and a half years.

“It’s a good time for a change,” Hegarty said, noting he called Browning to inquire about the job after talking with Cobbe. “It sounds really great for me.”

Hegarty lives in Pasco County, and his wife is a social worker for the school district. His children attended the school system.

By bringing in Hegarty in January, Browning said, the district should have a “seamless transition” in its communication office.

Cobbe earns $91,632 per year, and oversees an 11-person staff. She reports directly to Browning, who brought her in shortly after winning election in 2012.

Hegarty is expected to have much the same employment scenario.