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Sarasota Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 6 months ago

Sarasota Schools keeps Corcoran as interim superintendent

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Mitsi Corcoran will remain the acting superintendent until a search is completed for a longterm administrator.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

Mitsi Corcoran, the Sarasota County School District’s chief financial officer, will stay on as acting superintendent until the school board can find a long-term replacement. 

Corcoran stepped into the role of acting superintendent in November, following the removal of Todd Bowden who faced criticisms for his handling of a sexual harassment case. 

Corcoran was to remain acting superintendent until the board settled on a longer-term interim superintendent, which was planned for the Dec. 10 meeting. Initial talks revealed that board members favored former Seminole County Superintendent Bill Vogel for the position. 

Vogel, however, removed himself from consideration. Rather than choose another person outside the district, the board asked Corcoran to stay on during the search for a permanent superintendent. 

Corcoran will continue to act as superintendent and CFO, a position she’s held with the district since 2007. Although she has made it clear she does not want the position full time, Corcoran said she is honored to continue the role for the time being. 

“I am very humbled by your support and I will do what I can to help lead the district and move forward until we find a permanent replacement,” Corcoran said.

The board directed school district attorney Art Hardy to draft a contract with Corcoran. Hardy said he would likely take allowances such as pay and car use from Bowden’s previous contract. Additionally, the contract would allow Corcoran to return to her CFO position when she's no longer superintendent. 

Although the board unanimously decided to keep Corcoran on, members were divided on steps forward. 

When the board convenes in January, members will begin reviewing applicants for a search firm. Board members were divided on which firms to hire and whether they should be Florida-based, whether the applicant search should solely focus on Florida candidates and what the length of the search should be. 

Board member Eric Robinson raised concern with hiring Florida School Board Association, the organization that helped the school board find Bowden. 

“In the interest of cooperation, I would agree to do it but before I say yes, I have a couple questions to ask to ensure some issues that came up last time don’t come up again,” Robinson said. 

The board has not specified a time frame in which it would like to hire a new superintendent, and some members expressed concerns about the upcoming elections. Both Robinson and Zucker will be up for re-election next year, though Zucker has said she will not seek re-election. 

If the board appoints a superintendent before the election, there is a possibility that the new superintendent would work with board members who had nothing to do with the selection process. 

Zucker said she’d want board candidates to have a say in the selection process. Robinson, however, said he felt that’s a bad idea. 

“I don’t think we should allow people who are running against each other to be a part of it,” Robinson said. “… we’re going to regret that.” 

Other board members said the board should not be worried about the elections and should proceed with the search. If the board waits until after the election, the start date of the new superintendent could be postponed until after the 2020-21 school year. 

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