FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Lee County School Board met today to discuss plans to replace Superintendent Joseph Burke when he retires next month.
The board came up with the following list of candidates:
Nancy Graham, a Collier County principal and former finalist during the 2011 Lee County Superintendent search. She worked for the Lee County School District for nearly 20 years and was principal of Cypress Lake High School.
Greg Adkins, Executive Director for East Zone operations
Dr. Connie Jones, a Lee County School District principal and a former finalist during the 2011 superintendent search
Ami Desamours, Budget Executive Director for Lee schools
Michael McNerney, who is retired from the Lee County School District
Doug Santini, a Lee county principal
Donna Widmeyer, a Charlotte County deputy superintendent
Board members also agreed whoever get the job should sign on for a 2 year contract, with evaluations every 3 months for the first year.
Over the next week, members will get in touch with candidates they do not already know to learn more about them.
The board plans to meet next Tuesday at 10 a.m. to discuss the search further and vote on Burke's replacement at noon.
Dr. Burke's last day on the job is expected to be June 19 and the board must have a replacement at that time.
Board member Jeanne Dozier says, "I was hoping we could actually bring closure to this today and have a name today but obviously we don't, we've got another meeting scheduled."
Board member Cathleen Morgan suggested the board appoint an internal interim superintendent while they launch a national search for a new district leader. But other board members felt they needed to move faster, and did not want a temporary leader.
Dozier says, "right now we are in a situation where we need someone who can come in with open arms, a healing hand, and heal what's going on here because there's been a lot of damage done."
She's not concerned about not casting a wider net for applicants. "I have always been under the pretense that somebody close to home, somebody that has known the district, knows where the bones are buried, knows what's been swept under the carpet, those are the ones that are going to be able to hit the ground running and move us forward."
The board members seemed to put their differences aside and come together at the meeting, however one board member tells WINK News there was a lot of tension around the table.
Dozier says, "hopefully everyone has taken some deep breaths, thought about the process that we have in front of us, what we need to do and have the realization that it's time for us to move forward."
Board member Tom Scott said, "we made a decision that we are going to make a decision and to me that's very important. This is not a place where we need to have a lot of uncertainty."
Scott says he supports Nancy Graham as a candidate for superintendent, and she appears to be the front runner among board members. "Having been a principal most recently, she's very tuned in at the school level, so that's my reason for supporting her, the rest of the names on that list I can't get warm to."
Board chair Mary Fischer says she spoke to Graham about the job, and she is interested. Fischer says, "we want to save the taxpayers money and we also want to save time because we have a lot of work to do to heal the district and move forward."
One name noticeably absent from the list was CAO Dr. Alberto Rodriguez. His name brought a lot of debate when mentioned at the last board meeting. Fischer says, "I think a lot of the controversy and talk about this current administration maybe caused people to rethink that and not bring his name up."
Board member Don Armstrong says while he's glad to see progress on the issue, he thinks the process is moving too fast.
Several community members spoke at the board meeting in support of Greg Adkins.