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Sarasota School Board extends superintendent's contract

Terry Connor, superintendent of Sarasota County Schools, is now officially signed on to serve for the next five years.

School board members Karen Rose, Bridget Ziegler and Tom Edwards.
School board members Karen Rose, Bridget Ziegler and Tom Edwards.
Photo by Ian Swaby
  • Sarasota
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The Sarasota County School Board voted unanimously to enter into a new five-year contract with Superintendent of Schools Terry Connor on June 18.

Since the start of his tenure in July 2023, Connor has implemented new initiatives in the district including the "Every Opportunity 2030" strategic plan, which laid out a broad range of programming, supports for students and teachers and forms of community engagement.

Connor's appointment followed a vote by the school board in 2022 to negotiate the resignation of former superintendent Brennan Asplen.

The renewal of Connor's contract came amid rising reading scores in the district, with a 14% increase, including charter schools, estimated for the third grade over the past year. 

“The results in raw data make me want to dance on the dais, but I will control myself,” said School Board Chair Karen Rose. “It was a pleasure, Superintendent Connor, to give you an outstanding evaluation.”

The new contract keeps Connor's salary at the previous $255,000 but extends his employment through 2029. 

Positive reviews from board and public

Before the meeting, board members rated Connor's performance. 

Board members Tom Edwards, Bridget Ziegler and Tim Enos ranked his performance as 4/5 (Accomplished), while Rose and board member Robyn Marinelli rated his performance as a 5/5 (Distinguished).

Members of the public also responded positively to the decision to renew Connor's contract.

Terrence Connor was selected as superintendent of Sarasota County Schools.
Photo by Ian Swaby

“I'm here to represent my child who's a student, all the students, every student, every day," said Elizabeth Bornstein. "I want to certainly give a shout-out for Mr. Connor, his evaluation, his contract, all in support of this being approved. Thank you, Mr. Connor, for doing the yeoman's duty this year. This has been a tough uphill climb, and you've proven your worth to the parents and the students and the teachers and administrators. You're here. You showed up every day, for every student every day.”

Some commenters accused Karen Rose, the board chair and one of the members who voted in favor of Connor's appointment in 2023, of taking credit for rising academic scores, which they said resulted from Asplen's efforts.

"Miss Rose, you fired Dr. Asplen, one of the key people responsible for raising test scores, which you try and take credit for," said local activist Sebastian Martinez.

Asplen had previously delivered a strategic plan focused on literacy programming and early childhood and career education. 

Connor also made numerous changes as he entered the district, which included reevaluating reading programs. 

"Our 3rd Grade Reading scores have increased by an unheard of 7% in one year," Rose wrote in a June 6 guest column in the Observer. "What’s more, if you exclude charter schools, the district increase is 14%."

The renewal of the contract saw all board members in agreement, with all praising Connor's performance. 

"We just didn't have systems in place to really support continued and sustainable growth, and so there was a disconnect, and sometimes at the end of the year ... our data would reflect something very different," Ziegler said. "I think that's why today was just such a beautiful moment where it highlighted, we're moving forward, we have that connectivity."

"You never ruffle, you stay focused, you drive ahead and in an environment, such as we're in, it's a welcome relief," Edwards said. "It's an oasis. quite frankly, for someone like myself who really just wants to get here and do a good job."

Connor likewise also praised the experience of working with the school board. 

"My expectations are just so blown out of the water," Connor said. "Working with each one of you has been a complete joy, our one-on-one conversations where we can be vulnerable, we can talk, we can get things done, and then we come in here and we execute."



Ian Swaby

Ian Swaby is the Sarasota neighbors writer for the Observer. Ian is a Florida State University graduate of Editing, Writing, and Media and previously worked in the publishing industry in the Cayman Islands.

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