St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies


REBUILDING AFTER CRISIS: Educator Bill Murray and working parent Cynthia "Cindy" Cino square off on how to deal with a budget crunch and lacking community trust after a school construction debacle.

Published October 26, 2004

Candidates Cynthia "Cindy" Cino and Bill Murray share many of the same concerns as they seek the District 4 School Board seat.

They want better communications within the district and between the schools and the community. They are concerned that the school system needs to show more fiscal responsibility and better oversight of tax dollars to avoid future fiascoes such as the Homosassa Elementary School construction problems.

And they think their backgrounds make them the best candidate for the seat, which Patience Nave has held the past eight years. Nave decided to not seek re-election.

An educator the past four decades, with half that time spent in Citrus schools, Murray said he understands how the system works.

But Cino said her background as a working parent is really the perspective the school district needs. In fact, she said Murray's education background would make it harder for him to "transcend" the school system perspective and help parents and students.

Still, Murray said he has positively touched the lives of thousands of parents and students, and that provides good training for the job. "I know where to get the answers to the questions," he said.

"I still say I'm the best person for the job," Cino countered. "You don't want all lawyers in Congress."

As the school district has struggled to find a way to rebuild its depleted emergency fund, top school administrators created a list of cuts. Cino said when the cut list included such items as the popular Math Field Day activity, it was clear the board needed someone to watch out for student programs.

Finding those needed dollars is possible, she said. "I've always needed 10 bucks and had five ... you just need to make the best of it," Cino said.

Murray said the budget crunch has been a wake-up call for the school district to begin making wise choices about where to put its financial focus. With continuing student growth on the horizon, making wise fiscal choices is imperative, he said.

He also said the district must find a way to rebuild the public trust it violated through the debacle at Homosassa Elementary. Improving communications with the community would be one important step. More active involvement by the School Board to be sure that members know what is happening with large projects would be another.

"Ultimately they're responsible," Murray said. "The board is directly responsible to the citizens of Citrus County."

Murray also would like to see board meetings televised so that residents can develop an interest in what the board is doing and be informed.

Cino calls her approach to the School Board job "common sense," and said she will work to help the community find ways to connect to the district.

"There are areas where the School Board needs to be playing more of a role. We are the liaisons with the community and the general public feels so alienated from the school system," she said.


School Board members are elected by voters countywide but must live in their district. They set policy and approve the budget for the county's public schools. The term is four years and the election is nonpartisan. District 4 encompasses southwest Citrus County. The annual salary is $28,800.


CYNTHIA "CINDY" CINO, 48, was born in Long Island, N.Y., and came to Inverness 41 years ago. A charge nurse at Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center, she previously worked at Citrus Memorial Hospital, Brentwood Nursing Home and various doctors' offices. Cino attended Crystal River High School and received her GED in 1974. She graduated from the Withlacoochee Technical Institute as a practical nurse and studied at Central Florida Community College to become a graduate nurse. She is currently taking additional courses through Jacksonville University. She is married and has seven children. ASSETS: home, property and business property. LIABILITIES: mortgage and loans. SOURCES OF INCOME: salary and rental property.

BILL MURRAY, 63, has worked for nearly 40 years as an educator, including his last 20 in the Citrus public schools since he came to the area from his native Indiana. He has worked as a teacher, an athletic director and a coach, spending 12 years at Crystal River High School, six years at Crystal River Middle School and two years at Lecanto High School. Murray has served on the Citrus schools Gender Equity Committee and has won several coaching awards. He earned his bachelor's degree from Manchester College and his master's degree from Ball State University. He is married and has two children. ASSETS: home, property, mutual funds and savings. LIABILITIES: mortgage and loans. SOURCES OF INCOME: school district salary.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.