LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The two finalists for the principal job at Lakewood Ranch High School will address the staff, faculty and community and make their case to become the fourth principal at the school.
The candidates will be available to answer questions and address the community from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at Lakewood Ranch High School, said Cynthia Saunders, the Manatee County school district executive director of secondary education.
The finalists are Craig Little, an assistant principal at Lakewood Ranch High School, and David Marshall, an assistant principal at Horizons Academy.
After the forum, attendees will be asked to choose the candidate they would prefer to help district officials make the final decision.
"I do really rely on the input from the forums," Saunders said.
On Tuesday, a committee of district principals and administrators whittled the list of six candidates who were interviewed in person down to Little and Marshall.
Little has been an assistant principal at Lakewood Ranch since 2010, according to the district. Prior to that, he served an assistant principal at Johnson Middle School from 2007-2010, and as an assistant principal at Haile Middle School from 2005-2007. Little was
a physical education teacher at Lakewood Ranch High School from 2001-2005.
Marshall joined Horizons Academy, the district's alternative school, as assistant principal in January. Before that, he served as an assistant principal at Braden River High from 2009 until the end of 2013 and as an assistant principal at Lakewood Ranch High from 2006-09, according to the district. Marshall also served as principal at Palm View Elementary in Palmetto from 2001-06.
Saunders said the district looked at candidates both in and out of the district.
The community forum is the final phase of the interview process for candidates and is all about finding a "good fit," Saunders said.
After the forum, Superintendent Rick Mills will make a recommendation to the board. The next board meeting is July 22, but Saunders said she hopes the candidate selected by Mills can begin working on July 8 to go through different summer training sessions for principals. Saunders said this situation is a special case and Mills can request the candidate begin work early.
"In this case, it really is necessary. We're doing a lot of training," she said.
The district is working to replace Linda Nesselhauf, who returned at the end of the year after a 38-year career. Nesselhauf also previously served as an assistant principal at Lakewood Ranch and Manatee high schools.
The district's first appointment to the job has already turned down the position.
In June, Mills appointed Justin Terry, who served as director of academic and career connections in the Wylie Independent School District in Wylie, Texas, during the 2013-14 school year, to the Lakewood Ranch job. The school board approved the appointment at a school board meeting in June.
Terry notified the district the day after the board approval to say he would not be taking the job, and instead would stay in his current district, taking a promotion and a pay raise.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.