5 superintendent candidates recommended to Seminole school board

Orlando Sentinel | by Leslie Postal | December 11, 2020

Five candidates, all with local ties, have been recommended as the potential next superintendent for Seminole County Public Schools, which is searching for a replacement for Superintendent Walt Griffin who will retire in the spring.

The five include three administrators with Orange County Public Schools, an administrator with the Lake County school district and Seminole’s school board attorney.

The five were recommended by a search committee appointed by the Seminole County School Board. The school board could discuss the candidates at its meeting Tuesday. It likely will decide in January which candidates to interview, conduct interviews in February and select a new superintendent in March, according to its advertised search schedule.

“I think we’ve given the board a lot of different choices in terms of background and ability,” said Amy Lockhart, chairman of the board’s search committee. “They all would be excellent superintendents in any county.”

The key, Lockhart added, will be for the board to figure out who is the best fit for Seminole, an A-rated district with more than 67,000 students.

The candidates are:

– Serita Beaman, the board’s attorney and the director of the school district’s legal services department. She is also a former private firm attorney and admissions counselor at Stetson University.

– Harold Border, chief of high schools for OCPS. He is also a former teacher, principal and area superintendent supervising dozens of OCPS campuses.

– Chad Farnsworth, an associate superintendent for human resources and employee relations at the Lake school district. He is also a former teacher, administrator and superintendent of Bradford County schools in North Florida.

– Scott Howat, chief communications officer for OCPS. He is also a former teacher, assistant principal and administrator overseeing governmental affairs and labor relations with OCPS.

– James Larsen, an area superintendent for OCPS supervising 30 campuses. He is also a former teacher, principal and administrator overseeing minority achievement with OCPS.

The committee unanimously voted to recommend Beaman to the school board and by a large majority approved the other four, too, Lockhart said.

Beaman may be the most unusual candidate, since she is a lawyer, not an educator, but Lockhart said she has been deeply involved in educational issues in her 16 years with the district.

The district received applications from 28 candidates, though two later withdrew.

The board plans to offer the next superintendent a three-year contract, a salary of at least $165,000 to $195,00 and other benefits. The new schools chief is to start by June 1.

Griffin has spent nine years as Seminole’s superintendent and a total of 37 years with the district, working as a teacher, principal and administrator.

Photo: Five candidates have been recommended to the Seminole County School Board as the potential replacement for Superintendent Walt Griffin, who is retiring in the spring. Griffin, shown at Seminole High School on the first day of school in August 2017, has been superintendent of Seminole County Public Schools for nine years. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel) (Jacob Langston / Orlando Sentinel)

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