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Committee culls superintendent applicant list

By Staff | Apr 7, 2011

The Superintendent Search Citizens Committee named its top recommended applicants for the Lee County School District superintendent position Wednesday night.
Eight names were culled from among 36 votes.
Those candidates include Kamela Patton with 28 votes, Dr. Constance Jones with 21 votes, Nancy Graham with 17 votes, Joe Burke with 16 votes, Dennis Thompson with 10 votes, Leon Hobbs with nine votes and Steven Cobb and Barbara McGann with seven votes each.
Two other short lists will be developed independently, one by the school board itself, the other by the executive director of the Florida School Board Association, which is a consultant to the process
These lists, each of which is expected to have at least five names, may overlap or be wholly different.
The candidate bio information for the citizen committee selections includes:
* Kamela Patton is the assistant superintendent of Miami-Dade County. Other experience includes differentiated accountability administrative director, region administrative director, instructional support director, curriculum director, principal, assistant principal, lead teacher and teacher.
* Dr. Constance Jones is the chief academic officer for the Lee County School District. Other experience includes nonpublic school approval branch accreditation specialist, education policy director, director of leadership development vice president, director of school programs vice president and principal.
* Nancy Graham is the principal for Naples High School and adjunct professor for Barry University, Florida Gulf Coast University and Nova Southeastern University when needed. Other experience includes executive director for quality, continuous improvement and planning, administrator on assignment, assistant principal for curriculum and teacher.
* Joseph Burke is the superintendent for Monroe County School District in Key West. Other experience includes region executive director for the Florida Department of Education, administrative director, region director and principal.
* Dennis Thompson is the superintendent of Collier County Public Schools. Other experience includes K-12 director, school counselor and director of personnel and community activities.
* Barbara McGann is the executive director of the Advanced Math and Science Academy in Mass. Other experience includes superintendent, assistant superintendent and chief executive officer.
* Dr. Leon Hobbs is the president and CEO of Hobbs Leadership Team in Georgia. He is a native Floridian with 28 years in education including associate superintendent of Facilities and Operations in Pinellas County and superintendent of schools for Dothan City Schools in Georgia.
* Steven Cobb is the chief academic officer for Fort Wayne Community Schools. Other experience includes chief operations officer, assistant superintendent, principal and teacher.
That consensus of the top eight came after some controversy concerning a local candidate.
Judge John Carlin put a motion on the table to take Thompson out of the panel’s top five, with Marie Vetter seconding.
Carlin said he was not receiving the type of feedback about Thompson that would provide the district with its greatest opportunity. He asked why Lee County would want to go down that road if there are board-related issues in Collier.
“I make the motion that we don’t have Thompson as the top five and make the next person as the top five,” Carlin said.
Discussion ensued before the motion was changed to retain him among the committee’s recommended top choices.
After additional consideration the committee also decided to add three more candidates to their list to have a total of eight to research.
Board Member Jeanne Dozier told the panel that they would be “shooting yourself in the foot if you only have five candidates.” She said those candidates who turned their resumes in at the last minute are now having conversations with their districts for more money.
“Some of those people will say I am sorry, I am pulling my name out,” Dozier said.
The committee members were broken down into eight groups Wednesday night, so each group could research one of the top eight selected. The members will have the opportunity to research their specific candidate until they reconvene for their next meeting to be held next Thursday.
Hall said the groups will get together and share what they found out about the candidates before they narrow down the number during their April 14 meeting. They then will submit their top five to the school board.
Project Manger Georgianna McDaniel told the committee that Executive Director of the Florida School Board Association Dr. Wayne Blanton shared a couple ways they can conduct their research. She said he suggested they Google a person’s name, look at the local media from their home town, along with looking to see if that person is still in the position that they listed on their resume.
Other suggestions included looking to see if the person has worked in a community with a diverse population and if the person has experience with the Florida Sunshine Law.
Dozier also shared some advice on how to conduct research on the candidates they choose. She said to pick up the phone and call those who they might know who lives in the candidate’s community. She said there are all sorts of ways to get a voice on the phone from that particular community.
Hall said he will provide a presentation to the school board with vice chairman Cedric Hall of their top five candidates next Friday. He said Blayton also will make his top five recommendations during the same meeting.
On May 11 at 6 p.m. the district will hold a welcoming dinner for board members, applicants and their spouses. The following day beginning at 8 a.m. candidates will meet the superintendent’s cabinet.
A lunch and an educational tour of the district will follow the interviews that Thursday. Later that night, from 6:30 p.m. -8 p.m., a community reception will be held.
The second round of interviews on May 13 will include the Superintendent Search Committee, which consists of 20 community members, 10 district employees and five students.
Each candidate also will be put through an experience-based interview, writing prompt and a presentation prompt.
The process will conclude with a workshop by the board members to determine the top candidates on May 17 at 9 a.m.
The school board has tentatively set June 1 as the hire date for a new superintendent and July 1 as the date he/she should start to be a part of next year’s budget process.The school district received a total of 43 applications for the superintendent position that they began advertising in February.