Sarasota schools superintendent committee winnows field

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Herald Tribune | By Ryan McKinnon | June 2, 2020

The committee drafted a preliminary list of 11 candidates to advance, but committee members will continue their research.

No baggage. Experienced. Ready to hit the ground running.

Those are the attributes the Sarasota School Board’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee want in the district’s next superintendent.

“Let’s not forget the context,” former Sarasota County School superintendent Wilma Hamilton said, reminding her fellow committee members of the unique challenges that COVID-19 will present the future superintendent. “I am not looking for someone who is going to need a lot of on-the-job training because, this year, that is going to be very difficult.”

The 25-member committee met virtually Tuesday to begin winnowing the list of 31 applicants for Sarasota’s top school administrative job. The committee is tasked with giving the School Board a list of recommended finalists, although the board can add or subtract candidates for that final list.

Each committee member read off the candidates they thought should advance. After debate, the committee ultimately decided to advance all applicants who received nine votes or more, ending up with a preliminary list of 11 candidates to send to the School Board.

Of the 31 candidates, five earned 20 or more votes, and all five are top-ranking leaders in large Florida school districts: Brennen W. Asplen III, deputy superintendent of St. Johns County Schools; Peter Licata, regional superintendent for Palm Beach County Schools; Keith Oswald, deputy superintendent for Palm Beach County Schools; Gonzolo S. La Cava, chief of human resources, Palm Beach County Schools, and Marie Izquierdo, chief academic officer, Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

The preliminary list the committee will advance includes the top five vote-getters, plus these applicants:

Brian T. Binggeli, the former superintendent of Brevard schools; Allison Foster, principal, Phillippi Shores Elementary; Robert Schiller, former Illinois and Michigan state superintendent; Stephen Covert, principal, Pine View School; Keith Rittel, superintendent, Provo City School District and Harold Bolder, chief of high schools, Orange County Public Schools.

Committee members will continue researching applicants and meet again next Tuesday, June 9, and if necessary on June 16.