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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Even if Jacksonville wins it loses

Even if Jacksonville wins it loses

I have been following the school board's now six-month ordeal to find our new superintendent. In six months they have finally narrowed it down to three finalists. This might be all and good if it wasn’t for the fact that four members of this current board will be looking for new work in just a little over two months, replaced by a vastly different board and it dawned on me even if we do win, Jacksonville loses.

The next round of superintendent talks won’t be for two more weeks until the second week of September. At that point they will dig deeper into the candidates backgrounds, plan trips to their home turf and hopefully this time include the public which was basically shut out from meeting the final five. How long is all that going to take? A month, six weeks? It doesn’t seem like the board has any urgency at all to pick the next super, just a self-imposed mandate to pick him (the three finalists are all male) before the second Tuesday in November.

Even if they pick a great candidate and there is considerable debate if a great candidate applied or not, then that person will become superintendent with a shroud of illegitimacy hanging over their head. Whenever they do something the public or the new board doesn’t agree with, the public and the new board can say, “well he wasn’t our pick, he was the pick of the last board, who left him as a parting gift as they turned out the lights.” I imagine the job of superintendent is hard enough without that sword of Damocles waiting to skewer them at every turn

If the board would have shown a since of urgency, Pinellas County took about five months total to hire their new superintendent, and had a new super in place before this school year began then I could have seen this lame duck school board picking the next superintendent but that wasn’t the case. Instead they seem bound and determined to drag it out right up to the eve of four out of seven members departure.

Nobody is saying this board doesn’t technically have the right to pick the next superintendent but just because you can do something doesn’t always make it a wise move to do so. As a casual observer it seems like hubris not a manifest necessity is driving their decision to pick the next superintendent.

Instead of picking the next super, somebody who won’t work for them, somebody who they won’t be able to direct, somebody who they will likely have very little contact with, why don’t they just do the due diligence and let the next board make the final decision.

We need the last few months of this board to be marked with common and good sense not just a desire to leave a mark.

Chris Guerrieri
School Teacher

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