TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School Board’s search for a new superintendent takes an important turn today, with board members expected to narrow the field to two or three finalists.
Board members will gather at 9 a.m. to begin a meeting expected to last into the early evening. In recent days, the process, assisted by the Ray and Associates search firm, has not been smooth.
- Voices about two Hillsborough superintendent candidates
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Controversy surrounds one of the finalists, Clay County’s Addison Davis, with some questioning Clay’s record on civil rights while others counter that Hillsborough’s record is worse.
There also has been a letter-writing campaign in support of Hillsborough Chief of Schools Harrison Peters, who was added to the semifinalist list in a 4-3 vote despite a low rating in a matrix exercise.
When the board last met two days ago, audience members spoke extensively about Davis and Peterson. But nothing was said about the other five: Stephanie Elizalde of Dallas, Don Haddad of Colorado, Alexa Cunningham of Salt Lake City, James McIntyre of Tennessee, and Peter Licata of Palm Beach County.
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All seven will participate in board interviews, in alphabetical order and with a uniform set of questions. Since it is a board meeting, the law allows for audience comment. That part is scheduled at 9 a.m.
At 9:30 a.m., the interviews will begin. The Tampa Bay Times will live-tweet the proceedings.
About 4 p.m., board members will use a “forced matrix” process to rank the seven candidates.
Then, with the board separated from the candidates, the Ray and Associates staff, which is being paid $45,000 to lead the search, will calculate the results.
The rankings, however, are not binding. When the board members return to the dais, they will discuss the candidates and try to reach a consensus on which two or three should be named as finalists.
The schedule is so grueling that board members will be well fed, attorney Jim Porter said, to maintain everyone’s blood sugar level.
Assuming the process is a success, the public will be invited to meet the finalists at 6:45 p.m. at Rampello K-8 School, 802 E Washington St., across the street from School Board headquarters. Members of the Tampa Bay Times’ Gradebook Facebook group will be able to see live video of the Rampello event.
The retirement of outgoing Superintendent Jeff Eakins becomes official on June 30. The board hopes to complete its search on Jan. 21.