Lakewood Ranch principal candidates stress communication, discipline

mdelaney@bradenton.comJuly 3, 2014 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Increasing communication and cracking down on discipline are the two main focuses for the candidate Manatee County School District officials choose to take on the job of Lakewood Ranch High School principal.

Craig Little and David Marshall, the final two candidates, participated in a forum Wednesday as the last step in interviewing for the job. The district expects to announce its chosen candidate Thursday for Manatee County School Board approval.

On Wednesday, forum attendees were asked to rank the candidates.

"It's most important we hear from you," said Valencia Lowen, assistant principal at Lakewood Ranch High School, who introduced the candidates.

Both made opening statements then took questions from audience members. In

an auditorium with about 50 in attendance, questions focused on enforcing discipline and increasing communication.

"Conflict and problems arise when communication breaks down," Marshall said.

He said he plans to create social media accounts for the school to increase communication.

Marshall joined Horizons Academy as assistant principal in January. 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. Marshall was principal at Palm View Elementary from 2001-06.

Little said he'd encourage an open atmosphere so students would feel comfortable coming to administrators with problems.

"As educators, we're in the business of relationships," Little said.

Little also said he would work on improving information on the school website.

Little has been an assistant principal at Lakewood Ranch since 2010. He served as 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 from 2001-2005.

Both said disciplinary issues should fall more to administrators than teachers.

Both candidates said they want to improve the system used to allow students to leave the clasroom.

"Teachers need to be accountable for students who leave their classroom," Marshall said.

Little advocated having a better system in place for teachers signing student planners when they leave the classroom, so teachers can track how often a student leaves.

Cynthia Saunders, executive director of secondary education, took home score sheets from the audience to create a tally, which will indicate the candidate attendees preferred. She will pass along the information to Superintendent Rick Mills.

The next board meeting is July 22, but Saunders said she hopes the candidate selected by Mills can begin training Tuesday. Saunders said this situation is a special case and Mills can request the candidate begin work early.

The district is working to replace Linda Nesselhauf, who retired at the end of the year after a 38-year career.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.

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