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Charter authority interviews superintendent candidates

By Staff | Jul 27, 2017

The Cape Coral Charter School Authority on Thursday had an opportunity to interview the six candidates for the school superintendent position in council chambers at City Hall.

While the governing board did not make a formal declaration regarding those who would move on, they did agree there were candidates that stood out, including the interim superintendent.

Those finalists will be officially decided upon at the Aug. 8 Charter School board meeting, but Authority Chair Jessica Cosden said interim superintendent Jacque Collins, Monty Aldrich, who was a finalist the last time the job came open, and Jeffrey McCartney appeared as favorites to move on.

Five of the candidates were interviewed via a less-than-perfect Skype process, which was plagued with technical difficulties. Only interim superintendent Jacque Collins had the opportunity to speak directly with the board.

All the candidates were given the same questions, including one question to which they were asked to e-mail a response. The interviews, which took between 20 and 25 minutes, regarded their relationships with governing boards, budgetary priorities, achievements in student achievement and more, issues the Authority board felt was most relevant to them.

The board seemed pretty unanimous that Aldrich should be moved on, citing his brevity, bluntness and humor as worthy of praise.

McCartney was seen as someone who spoke to the board on a next-level basis, going beyond the traditional answer. However, his work in a small system was seen as a possible negative against him.

As for Collins, she had a huge edge in regards of institutional knowledge of the system she has worked at for 12 years, as well as being able to be interviewed without the technical problems.

Some questioned her experience, which she gained in a tough situation and what amounted to on-the-job training following the resignation of Nelson Stephenson in March.

It turned out to be quite a balancing act in determining her pros and cons.

“Her experience is relevant. She will give us loyalty. There are many benefits for keeping Collins,” Robert Zivkovic said. “She stepped into a tough situation with little direction.”

Zivkovic did question whether she was too close being an internal candidate, while Sam Fisher said communication with the board was an issue.

Where there was some question was the format, which not only had technical problems but what Authority member Russell Winstead said was more a Q&A session than an actual interview with interaction.

Cosden said while it wasn’t perfect, it was a good way to winnow out those who fell short, which, in the end, it seemed to do.

The other candidates, Michelle Imbrunone, Steve Stohla and Lois Cavucci, also interviewed, and while they also had their bright moments, they were also seen as, perhaps, not having the experience the board was looking for.

In the end, board members knew they had to decide on a candidate who is the best fit for the system.

“We need experienced leadership and we need to see that they understand what’s going on and get it,” Winstead said.