Manatee County School District prepares for superintendent interviews

eearl@bradenton.comFebruary 7, 2013 

MANATEE -- The Manatee school district is making final preparations to meet the six finalists in its search for a new superintendent.

The Superintendent Search Committee, a citizen's advisory group aiding in the search process, met Wednesday to finalize questions for the candidates who will participate in a series of interviews Feb. 11-12.

The six candidates are:

n John Carvelli, an elementary school principal in Palm Beach County;

n Rick Mills, the Minneapolis Public School District chief executive officer;

n Kathryn LeRoy, the Duval County Public Schools director;

n Dr. Diana Greene, the former superintendent for the Marion County School District;

n Dr. Constance Jones, the chief academic officer at the School District of Lee County; and

n Pamela Stewart, the K-12 chancellor of public schools

for the Florida Department of Education.

The candidates will participate in a round-robin style of interview sessions Monday at the School Support Center in downtown Bradenton, taking questions from the Manatee County School Board, the Manatee Education Association, the AFSCME union, the Citizens Advisory Group and school district staff.

The five school board members will conduct one-on-one interviews with each of the candidates on Tuesday.

The interviews on Monday will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 6:40 p.m., followed by a public reception at Pier 22 at 7 p.m. The interviews on Tuesday will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 2:55 p.m.

Top priorities for the search committee include solid examples of a candidate's prior experience and success and how they would facilitate relationships with board members, business leaders, teachers and students. The group is also looking for a person who can ensure that economically disadvantaged students are prepared for college and careers, how to increase the reading proficiency in English language learners, and how to challenge the minds of gifted students.

"There are so many instructional topics; who can give it justice?" committee member Hal Nelson said. "Candidates will need to address talented students as well as explicitly address average and low performers."

Each candidate's interview will be 90 minutes long.

"This can be very long or short; it depends how we lay out the questions," said school board chair Karen Carpenter.

The questions will be sent out to the candidates before the interviews, although the group struggled to reach consensus over this idea.

"Responses need to be truly off the cuff, not 'Sunday school' answers," said committee member John Horne.

Carpenter pointed out that there will be time for spontaneity in the one-on-one interviews.

"I am impressed with the depth, thought, and give-and-take that has gone into this process," said school board member Dave "Watchdog" Miner.

The interviews will be recorded and open to the public.

A few students from Southeast High School, Manatee High School, Bayshore High School, Braden River High School, Lakewood Ranch High School, and Palmetto High School will attend the first three interviews Monday.

The goal is for the superintendent to be chosen by Feb. 20 and settled into the position by April 1.

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