Fort Myers News-Press | Bill Smith | January 12, 2022
Lee County School Board members have narrowed the field of candidates for a permanent replacement for Gregory Adkins as superintendent of schools.
The replacements were chosen in balloting by school board members at a meeting last week. Members cast ballots privately, and they were tallied by May and Associates, an Iowa-based consulting firm.
Only one of the five finalists has experience as a superintendent of schools; two candidates have experience as chief of staff or deputy superintendents at districts with more than 200,000 students.
With about 95,000 students, Lee School District is the 32nd largest in the country.
The Lee School District announced Wednesday that the school board will interview the candidates virtually Jan. 18 and Jan. 19. The interviews will be posted to the district’s YouTube channel.
Current interim superintendent Kenneth Savage was not chosen as a finalist. His contract included a provision that stated he would not apply for a permanent post. The district lawyer said such a provision is unenforceable.
On the final day of applications, Savage sent a letter addressed to the school board to the district’s consultant on the search. He said he would be willing to assist with the search.
Savage’s offered to be “more actively involved” in the screening process, to “help provide feedback” on possible choices, or “extend my support to your final selection.” Savage also said if the members of the committee asked him to apply, he would be willing to do so.
He was eliminated after three school board members, voting by anonymous ballot, gave him zeroes in the balloting.
May and Associates has not responded to inquires from The News-Press requesting an explanation for the company’s scoring system.
Here are the candidates:
Christopher S. Bernier
Current position: Chief of staff, Clark County Nevada Public Schools, 2019-present
Students in District: 320,000
Educational attainment: Doctorate in Educational Leadership, University of South Florida
Other positions: Associate superintendent, Orange County, Florida, schools, 2010-2019 (students, 206,000)
Michael J. Ramirez
Current Position: Deputy Superintendent, Denver Public schools, 2019-present
Students in district: 206,000
Educational attainment: Masters in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern, Fort Lauderdale, 2003
Other positions: Broward County Director of School Performance and Accountability, 2012-2019
Randy L. Mahlerwein
Current position: Assistant Superintendent, Mesa, Arizona, public schools, 2019-present
Students in District: 2,046
Educational attainment: Doctorate in education leadership, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff
Other positions: Former middle and elementary school principal in Arizona, 2010-2016
Current position: Sales director, Beable Education, Lakewood, New Jersey
Educational attainment: Master of Science, Naval War College and University of Colorado, U.S. Air Force Academy
Other positions: Chief of Staff, 2016-17, Oakland, California, schools; Deputy Director of Policy for Secretary of the Air Force, 2012-2014
Current position: District Superintendent, Hamblen County School District, Morristown, Tennesee, 2017-present
Students in district: 10,500
Educational attainment: Doctorate in Education, Virginia Teach, 2014
Former positions: Division superintendent in districts in Wythe and Wise counties in Virginia, (school populations 4,200 to 5,300); West Grand and Bryer school districts in Colorado (900-1,200 students)