Search for Manatee County schools superindentent presses on

eearl@bradenton.comJanuary 31, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The Citizens Advisory Group assisting in selecting a new superintendent for School District of Manatee County is continuing to come to a consensus on who that may be.

On Wednesday, the panel spent time preparing for upcoming interviews with finalists for the position.

Those finalists are: Rick Mills, the Minneapolis Public School District chief executive officer; Kathryn LeRoy, the Duval County Public Schools director; Dr. Diana Greene, the former superintendent for the Marion County School District; Dr. Constance Jones, the chief academic officer at the School District of Lee County, and Pamela Stewart, the K-12 chancellor of public schools for the Florida Department of Education.

The school board is gearing up for Feb. 11, the day of interviews of the final candidates, which will occur during five breakout sessions. According to Dr. Wayne Blanton of the Florida School Board Association, and Dr. Richard Conard, chairman of the advisory group, any of the five candidates can do the job and could handle the nature of the position. As Debra Woithe put it, "we are not looking for a politician; we are looking for a leader."

The group discussed the importance of seeking a candidate with a clear financial vision. Public certified accountant Byron Shinn discussed how crucial financial transparency is, especially in what he called a "financially broken world." The group agreed that such a vision for the finance de

partment is what makes a world-class education system. Each of the five candidates will undergo a 90-minute interview, which leaves room for only about five questions per interview. The process will also be a matter of checking for chemistry and finding the perfect fit. members agreed.

The original plan was for members of the advisory group to email their questions to Conard, who would reduce these questions to a list of five. However, Dr. Bill Vogel, Woither and Conard stayed after the meeting to trim down the list of questions on their own to send to the group for approval by Feb. 6.

These questions are to ensure all students in the district are prepared for college and careers, group members said. Relevant questions include what candidates will do to address the language challenges and reading proficiencies for students of lower economic status and students with limited English skills.

Conard noted that the advisory group and the school board must ask the right questions and come out of this process as a team. They are on a tight deadline for finalizing their interview questions for the candidates.

"We all have ownership in the success of this effort," said school board Chair Karen Carpenter.

The group's next meeting will be held 9 a.m. today at the school board building, 215 Manatee Ave. West. The meeting will be televised on cable on METV.

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