Board moves on to second choice

Early Edition: A day after the school board selected their top superintendent candidate, he says: "No thanks."

By Tom Marshall
Published March 16, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - One day he said he was fine with the salary range.

But today, would-be Hernando County Schools superintendent Harry J. La Cava said he wasn't so fine with it after all. Speaking to School Board attorney J. Paul Carland, the candidate said he currently earns $155,000 plus benefits as an area-superintendent in Broward County - and wouldn't consider the $125,000 Hernando advertised as its best offer.

And so, as fast as they'd embraced him, the School Board dumped him Friday and looked to their number-two candidate to replace the retiring Superintendent Wendy Tellone.

"My support for Dr. La Cava has evaporated," said board member Jim Malcolm, saying the candidate hadn't spoken truthfully with the board.

Waiting in the wings is Wayne Alexander, the director of school operations and human resources for the New London (Conn. ) Schools.

Both Malcolm and John Sweeney ranked him Thursday as their favorite, praising both his level of preparation and sense of humor. Chairman Pat Fagan and Sandra Nicholson had ranked him as their second choice.
And Dianne Bonfield said she'd be happy to support his candidacy.

Carland said La Cava had entered the state's Deferred Retirement Option Program, and had raised the possibility of needing to be reimbursed by the board for his contributions to that system if he left it.

Nicholson said that fact raised questions about how long La Cava would have stayed in the job had he gotten it.

"I am at this point ready to go and negotiate with Dr. Alexander," Nicholson said.

Officials quickly reached Alexander by telephone, and were told he would be happy to negotiate within the board's $95,000 to $125,000 range. He currently earns $112, 850 in Connecticut , said human resources director Heather Martin.