The superintendent of Keys schools on Tuesday made two more rounds of cuts in his search for a new job.
The St. Johns County School Board in St. Augustine and the Sarasota County School Board south of Bradenton whittled their lists for a new superintendent. Mark Porter, hired by the Monroe County School Board in 2012, made the final four in St. Johns and the final eight in Sarasota.
“I think it’s still quite a ways off. They are both extremely high-performing school districts in Florida. They certainly are opportunities I don’t think I could overlook.... I’m just trying to be patient and work through the process,” Porter said.
In Sarasota, each finalist must submit by Sept. 14 answers to a questionnaire asking about an upcoming referendum to extend a schools tax, the finalist’s relationship with his or her school board and ways to improve schools considered to be performing poorly. The Herald-Tribune reports that on Sept. 15, board members will read the answers and then on Sept. 20, will meet to begin “formal discussions.”
The newspaper said a new superintendent could be chosen by Oct. 18.
In St. Johns, the School Board’s interviews with the finalists are planned the first week of October.
Besides Porter, one other applicant for both superintendent positions has made the short lists: Vickie Cartwright, senior executive director for exceptional student education for Orange County Public Schools in Orlando.
Monroe County has no deputy superintendent but if Porter is hired away, Theresa Axford, executive director of teaching and learning, or David Murphy, executive director of assessment and accountability, could be tapped on an interim basis to fill the top spot, School Board Vice Chairman John Dick said.
“If he gets it, he gets it,” Dick said. “Unfortunately we might be looking for a superintendent again. Don’t forget, the board now has control over this.” Keys superintendents used to be elected. Porter was the first chosen under a change that puts that power in the board’s hands.
“If he were to leave Jan. 1, we would put someone interim,” Dick said. “We’re not going to go running willy-nilly.”
Porter earns $150,000 a year and receives an annual travel supplement of $7,080. He hasn’t received a raise since he started.
The St. Johns County superintendent job starts at $165,000, but the district is more than four times the size of Monroe County’s, with 36,000 students and 4,000 employees. Sarasota is even larger, with 42,600 students and a $417 million annual operating budget. The starting salary for Sarasota’s superintendent is $185,000 a year.
Porter’s Keys contract expires next year.
Larry Kahn: 305-440-3218