New superintendent, board close to a deal

Published March 31, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - If all goes according to plan, the Hernando County School Board will sign a contract Tuesday with a new superintendent of schools.

Negotiations have been under way since Connecticut administrator Wayne Alexander was picked March 16 as the board's top choice to succeed the retiring superintendent Wendy Tellone.

Alexander initially requested a salary of $125,000 per year, which would place him at the very top of Hernando's published range for the job, said Chairman Pat Fagan.

"We did come back with a counteroffer and he came back with another one," Fagan said.

He and board attorney J. Paul Carland offered $118,000, and Alexander suggested $121,000, Fagan said. But the district likely won't make another offer until conferring with the other four board members Tuesday at an afternoon session.

A final vote could follow at the 7 p.m. regular School Board meeting if the parties reach an agreement, Fagan said.

"If you're going to get a good individual as superintendent, you need to pay that individual what he's worth," Fagan said. "Especially if you want him to stay in the county. Hopefully the board will agree with what we came up with."

While most aspects of his contract would be the mirror image of the current package for Hernando administrators, particularly in terms of benefits and vacation, the board will need to consider a few changes for Alexander.

Fagan and Carland have tentatively agreed to his request of $700 per month as an allowance for in-state automobile expenses, but Alexander has asked that those expenses not be structured as part of his income, according to a draft of the contract obtained by the St. Petersburg Times.

The board has offered a two-year contract with the option of a third year, but Alexander has requested a three-year package. He "agrees conceptually with the one-year rolling extensions" currently used for Tellone, the contract said.

Board members said they were impressed during interviews with Alexander's preparation and knowledge of the Hernando school system.

Alexander, 46, emerged from a field of 37 applicants for the district's top job. He currently serves as director of school operations and human resources for the 3,400-student New London, Conn., public schools.

While Alexander has never served as a superintendent, he personally runs many of the nuts-and-bolts programs - from maintenance and transportation to school improvement and professional development - in his cash-strapped Connecticut district.

He earned a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University, and has served as a principal and assistant principal, and consultant to the Rhode Island Department of Education.

Tom Marshall can be reached at (352) 584-5537 or tmarshall@sptimes.com.