The St. Johns County School District is closing in on its superintendent search with four names advancing into the finalist phase. In-person interviews will begin the first week of October.
After some debate during Tuesday’s workshop meeting, board members settled on candidates Tim Forson, Mark Porter, Vicke Cartwright and Elizabeth Alves.
Forson, a former district employee, received five out of five votes of approval, while applicants Porter, Alves and Cartwright each received three votes.
Andrea Messina, executive director of the Florida School Board Association, said two of the finalists, Porter and Cartwright, have also applied for the superintendent position in Sarasota.
“Sarasota is a week behind us regarding their search,” Messina said. “But the first thing they ask us is, ‘What did St. Johns [County] do?’”
With pressure mounting from other job openings and possible last-minute withdrawals, board members agreed four finalists provided more options and kept doors safely open.
“I keep being told that this is the biggest decision we’ll make as a board ever,” said school board chair Patrick Canan. “The only way I can figure out which side of the fence I’m going to fall is if I meet a few of these folks and have a benchmark to judge them by.”
Candidates and their families will be flown in and housed during the interview phase, which is scheduled for Oct. 5-7. Board members will individually interview candidates as well as conduct group and public meetings to interact finalists with the community.
Canan said he’s still torn between a candidate with past St. Johns County experience or an out-of-towner with fresh perspective.
“I go back and forth in my own mind about whether this district need to keep the course with someone who’s local or we need to bring in some new ideas or energy,” Canan said. “I don’t know the answer to that.”
The four candidates will negotiate salary ranging from $165,000 to $195,000 during their interviews and the board will make its final selection at the Oct. 11 board meeting.
■ School board members announced that Oct. 17 is the make-up day for classes canceled because of Hurricane Hermine last Friday. The date was originally a teacher planning day.
Superintendent Joe Joyner said parents and students will be informed of any changes in report card dates based on the schedule adjustment.
■ The Department of Education will audit First Coast Technical College and review its performance over the last three years.
Cathy Mittlestadt, FCTC’s principal, said the DOE team will look at the college’s adult education plans and areas of study as well as visit classrooms, meet with teachers and leadership teams, and review financial, personnel and student attendance records.
The audit comes during FCTC’s transition back into district hands and Mittlestadt said she expects some records will reflect the school’s past underperformances.
“Feedback from DOE will absolutely be appreciated to help aid us in moving forward,” she said.