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Schools

Ex-education official to lead school administrators

Jim Warford's interim appointment by the statewide association comes weeks after he quit as state K-12 chancellor.

By RON MATUS
Published August 26, 2005


Six weeks after abruptly resigning from a top spot in Florida's education bureaucracy, former K-12 chancellor Jim Warford is assuming leadership of the statewide organization that supports school administrators.

Warford, 56, is slated to become interim executive director of the Florida Association of School Administrators, which represents 3,000 superintendents, principals and other district education leaders. He starts Sept. 1, replacing Mike Eader.

"I'm looking forward to being an advocate for the men and women leading our schools," he said.

Eader is leaving because "we needed to go in a different direction," said association president Joel Herbst, who declined to be more specific. Warford is expected to be named permanent director at some point, but no timetable has been set.

Warford resigned July 11 from his $140,000-a-year post at the Education Department. Neither he nor department officials would comment on the decision, but other signs suggested an unhappy split with Education Commissioner John Winn.

Herbst said that would not hinder Warford's effectiveness.

In any large organization "some people are thrilled by what you've done and some people don't like what you've done," he said.

"They're both devoted to the success of Florida students far and above any issues they may have had," said Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who chairs the House Education Council.

A former teacher and businessman, Warford rose rapidly in Florida education circles. He was elected Marion County superintendent in 2000 before attracting the eye of Gov. Jeb Bush and being appointed chancellor in 2003. Some observers considered him a candidate for the commissioner's job that ultimately went to Winn, a longtime department insider.

As chancellor, Warford pushed a program he first tried in Marion County, which required struggling schools to closely monitor test scores and give extra help to the lowest-performing students. He also has been a strong advocate for better training of principals - a passion that is expected to be his focus at the association.

Outside the department, Warford earned a reputation for openness and a good ear, which won him respect among education constituencies that often did not like the policy decisions coming from Tallahassee.

His experience at the district level "made it easy for us to talk to him," said David Mosrie, chief executive officer of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.

Warford's former position at the Education Department remains vacant.

Ron Matus can be reached at 727 893-8873 or matus@sptimes.com

[Last modified August 26, 2005, 01:35:09]


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