Fiorentino For Superintendent of Schools
THE SUNCOAST NEWSThe race for Pasco Superintendent of Schools features two well-qualified candidates in Republican incumbent Heather Fiorentino and her Democratic challenger Stephen Donaldson.
Published: October 25, 2008
Published: October 25, 2008
Fiorentino, 50, New Port Richey, is a former teacher, New Port Richey city council member and state representative who over the years have consistently looked for new ways to serve her community. Her 24 years as a school district employee, 14 as a teacher, have served her well during her first four years in office.
Fiorentino's impact on the district can best be seen by looking at the overall district's grade, which went from a "B" to an "A" during her first term. She has helped establish career academies to aid non-college-bound students to develop job skills, which in turn has assisted in reducing the district's drop-out rate, which is no small accomplishment in today's education world. With a tightening budget Fiorentino has also been able to cut millions of dollars in expenses while not having to layoff any teachers.
However, Fiorentino faces challenges when it comes to the support of the teachers union and longtime board member Marge Whaley, both whom have thrown their support behind Donaldson. This is evidence of what some described about Fiorentino being out of touch with what's happening in the classrooms and on campuses. Education in Florida faces difficult challenges and being out of touch with teachers is a huge problem in improving education of the students.
Donaldson, 50, Trinity, is a retired U.S. Air Force major and businessman who for the last five years has worked as a teacher.
He has a master's degree in educational leadership from St. Leo University. Donaldson is an advance-placement teacher at Gulf High School.
Donaldson's biggest challenge is that he has not served as a principal or administrator. However, that's what was said about Fiorentino four years ago when she first ran for office.
Like Fiorentino, students come first for Donaldson. However, with Donaldson at the helm, it would help to ease the growing tension between the union and superintendent's office.
As superintendent, he plans to ensure that open discussion about the budget occurs between district personnel, Pasco County School Board, United School Employees of Pasco union and the community. He also plans to teach one class per day in an effort to stay connected with students whose futures he is responsible for. This is one race where an infusion of new blood could do some much needed good in the district.
The Suncoast News recommends Stephen Donaldson for Superintendent of Schools in the Nov. 4 general election.