Monroe County schools Superintendent Mark Porter on Tuesday was named one of seven semifinalists to be St. Johns County schools chief.
“Mr. Porter has a very strong application package and he’s a very strong candidate,” said Bill Vogel, a consultant for the Florida School Boards Association who is helping conduct the job search.
Porter received votes from two of the five St. Johns County School Board members, the St. Augustine Record reported. Now, he and the others will be sent a list of questions to answer in writing for the board. In-person interviews will be granted only to finalists.
Porter, who was hired in 2012 as the Florida Keys’ first superintendent chosen by the School Board and not voters, said Tuesday he wants to stay in Monroe but that’s up to the board.
“You kind of have to look out for yourself as you enter the final year,” Porter said, referring to his contract. “I just felt I had to preserve a couple of opportunities here in the state of Florida. The first critical question is, does the board want me to stay?”
St. Johns School Board members Tuesday morning approved the semifinalist list and will hold a workshop Sept. 6 to review the candidates. They are scheduled to select finalists Sept. 13 for a job that starts in January and pays between $165,000 and $195,000 plus benefits.
Porter makes $150,000 a year in Monroe County. The School Board hasn’t given him a raise since hiring him four years ago.
“I’m not highly motivated by money,” Porter said. “If I didn’t want to stay, I can assure you there are many other opportunities.”
Board member Ed Davidson lashed out at Porter publicly at a candidate election forum this month, accusing him of jumping ship from the district to find a better pay without properly informing the board of his plans, as his contract requires.
“He’s no longer the person to lead us into the future,” Davidson told a crowd of about 200 at the Hometown PAC forum in Key West.
Porter said he followed the contract, telling the board he had applied at St. Johns. He later applied for the open schools chief job in Sarasota and Tuesday said those are the only two he is seeking.
Porter said the board here will likely discuss his contract next month and that he has met one on one with the five members about focusing on school matters in the public eye for now.
“There’s still a lot of time left,” Porter said. “I’ve talked to the board. We do not want to detract from the start of the school year.”
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen