Pensacola, Florida
Friday September 19th 2014

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Outtakes 8/25/11

SCHOOL CEO NEEDED Escambia County needs to branch outside of its public school system and elect someone as superintendent who is not a product of its system. Too much inbreeding has led to some genetic defects that can’t be fixed by simply putting another Escambia County school administrator or principal in the superintendent’s seat.

Okaloosa County schools took off when businessman Don Gaetz was elected their Superintendent of Schools. Gaetz, who is now a leader in the Florida Senate, was the first non-educator elected to the position and oversaw the improvement of Okaloosa’s school system from a “C” to an “A”.

The Escambia County Public School District badly needs a fresh, innovative approach. It needs someone who isn’t tied to the employees and administrators. Think about how differently the sexual assault at Tate High School would have been handled if both the superintendent and the head of high schools hadn’t been products of that school.

For those concerned about a non-educator running a school district with over 40,000 students, then let the new superintendent hire a CEO–Chief Education Officer–to run the school operations. The new superintendent can do a nationwide search and find the best educator in the country, with a background in turning around troubled school systems.

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward has been able to accomplish a great deal by bringing in two seasoned professionals, John Asmar and Bill Reynolds. Asmar, Hayward’s Chief of Staff, is a local attorney with over 12 years experience in local government serving communities throughout Florida, including Escambia County and the City of Pensacola.

Chief Administrative Officer Bill Reynolds is also an attorney who served as Communications Officer and Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Arlen Spector. The Marine officer also led civil and military operations in Iraq.

These two professionals, neither with ties to the old city government, have given Mayor Hayward the support to set a new course for the City of Pensacola. A CEO for the Escambia County Public School District could do the same for education in this county.

My father always said the first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging. Escambia County needs a fresh approach to education. Jim Paul, who was a high school teacher that had worked in the Reagan administration, made some great strides from 2000-2008, but we’ve lost that momentum.

Escambia County needs to broaden the field when electing the next school superintendent.