Last Updated: March 21
The applicants’ pool for Flagler County School Superintendent totaled 41 by the time the application window closed at midnight Friday. As often happens with applications for jobs of this nature, some of the strongest candidates waited until the last minute to apply.
When the school board and its advisory committee meet for the first time Tuesday to examine the batch, they will not be faced with an embarrassment of dazzles. But they won;t lack for good candidates, wither.
Based on an examination of the 41 applications the school district made available by Tuesday morning (see below), the council will see few applicants with experience as superintendents. Out of four current public school superintendents who did apply, the combined enrollment in all four of their districts is less than 8,000 students, and three of the four applicants are in districts of fewer than 2,000 students. The Flagler school district’s enrollment is around 13,000, and is expected to grow.
Scott Woolstenhulme, an assistant superintendent, applied from the Bonneville Joint School District 93 in Idaho, which on paper looks similar to the Flagler school district, with 12,000 students and similar goals.
There are a few additional former superintendents, though one, Constance Jones, resigned under jarring circumstances and questions about students’ academic achievements in a Colorado school district a bit larger than Flagler’s. Another, Michael Dodge, now a resident of Port Orange, retired from a 1,700-student district in Michigan. Steve Benton of Cottondale, Fla., retired from the 7,500-student Jackson County school system as superintendent in 2012.
Applicant Charlie Van Zant Jr. was the elected superintendent of schools in Clay County for one term, between 2012 and 2016, but his term was jarred by controversy after he was openly accused by a former principal in the district of ignoring warnings that some special-education students had been deliberately mis-categorized (special education students command a greater share of state funding). He denied the accusations and accused the former principal of being a disgruntled employee. The Clay County School Board in December asked state education officials to review the findings of an investigation into the matter.
Fourteen of the applicants are from Florida, several of them living in the state in retirement, and only two applicants from Flagler: Vernon Orndorff, whom former Superintendent Bill Delbrugge hired as principal at Indian Trails Middle School before former Superintendent Janet Valentine elevated him to the district administration; and Phyllis Edwards, who rose through the ranks in Flagler County schools from teacher to director of elementary education to assistant superintendent before her departure in 2003 to become the superintendent of the city schools of Decatur, Ga., a position she held for more than a dozen years before returning to Palm Coast.
Orndorff is the executive director of leadership development under Superintendent Jacob Oliva, and essentially a deputy superintendent. He’s also a heavy favorite, with at least two school board members (Trevor Tucker and Andy Dance) having already pronounced themselves ready to hire from within, and Dance once citing Orndorff by name. Three board members–Janet McDonald, Colleen Conklin and Maria Barbosa–favored conducting a national search.
Orndorff will face competition after all: until late last week, that competition appeared less than fierce. But by the time all the names were in, he was facing at least two names that are almost as certain as his to be among the finalists–Edwards and, in a late surprise, Todd Sprager, who since 2010 has been the principal of Spruce Creek High School in Volusia County, a school that year after year ranks among the best in the nation. (There was talk of Delbrugge possibly applying, but so far his name is not on the list.)
The search was necessitated by Oliva’s decision to take a job at the state Department of Education by June. Just as it was with Oliva’s hiring, it’s been a hurried process, this time helped by the involvement of consultants from the Florida School Board Association, who coordinated the advertising campaign. The position was advertised much more broadly than it was three years ago before Oliva’s hiring, but only for eight weeks: the ad was published on Feb. 13.
Several principals and teachers have applied, as have several mid-level administrators and at least two executives with for-profit school networks or charter school networks, a reflection of the more varied education landscape.
The list of applicants and their full application packets appears below. Click on the bolded names to see the application. The list will be updated as the district makes additional applications available.
Applicants for Flagler County School Superintendent, 2017
|Martha Adams||Miami, Fla.||Exceptional Education Teacher.||Devon Aire K-8 Center, Fla.|
|Wayne Alexander||Old Lyme, Conn.||Director of Alternative Education|
/Asst. Director of Adult Education
|Bridgeport, Conn., Public Schools|
|Audie Ash||Perry, Fla.||High School Principal||Taylor County Schools, Fla.|
|Steve Benton||Cottondale, Fla.||Not employed. Retired as Superintendent of Jackson County Schools, 2012||Not employed.|
|George Bohatch||Fort Myers, Fla.||Director of Student Services||Lee County Schools, Fla.|
|Jon Bonneville||Lakeville, Minn.||Elementary school principal||Burnsville Eagan Savage School
[Did not qualify]
|Dublin, Ga.||Assistant Superintendent||Twiggs County Public Schools (1,500 students).|
|Nick Campagna||Old Lyme, Conn.||Administrative Internship|| Bloomfield Public
|Amanda Cerda||Port Orange, Fla.||Elementary School Teacher||Volusia County Schools.|
|Vincent Cotter||Bradenton, Fla.||Education Consultant.||Exemplary Schools Organization
|Michael Dodge||Port Orange, Fla.||Not employed. Retired Superintendent from Dundee Community Schools, Mich. in 2016 (1,700 students)||Not employed.|
|Ronnie Dotson||Grayson, Ky.||Superintendent||Carter County Schools (4,900 students)|
|Phyllis Edwards||Palm Coast, Fla.||Not employed.||Not employed.|
[Did not qualify]
|Peoria, Ariz.||Special Ed. Teacher, Exceptional Student Services||Dysart Unified School District
[Did not qualify]
|Concord, N.C.||High School Math Teacher||Not specified.|
|Kara Gann||Alpharetta, Ga.||Manager||Schoology|
|Thomas Gay||Port St. Lucie, Fla. ||Senior Education Manager||GEMS Education, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (for-profit network).|
|Daniel Gilbertson||Dryden, Mich.||Director of Innovative Education and Strategic Partnerships||Madison District Public Schools, Mich.|
|Kenneth Green||Antioch, Tenn.||Self-employed consultant (former Assistant Commissioner, Tennessee Dept. of Education)||None.|
|Christopher Hammill||Fort Gratiot, Mich.||Senior Vice President of Operations.||Accel Schools (for-profit charter school network).|
|Yolanda Heidelberg||Arlington, Tenn.||Elementary School Principal||Shelby County Schools, Tenn.
[Did not qualify]
|Dearborn Heights, Mich.||Director||Widening Advancements for Youth, Detroit.|
|Noelle Jacquelin||Cape May Court House, N.J.||Adjunct Professor||Rowan University.|
|Constance Jones||Pueblo, Colo.||Not employed.||Resigned as superintendent of an 18,000-student district in 2016.|
|Timothy Kuehl||North Liberty, Iowa||Superintendent||Clear Creek-Amana School District, Iowa (1,900 students).|
|Jeffrey McCartney||Beecher, Ill.||Superintendent||Beecher School District
, Ill. (1,000 students)
|Ray Mondragon||San Francisco, Calif.||Deputy Chief of Early Learning||Oakland Unified School District, Calif.|
|Mary Murray||Tampa||Course Mentor||Western Governors University.|
|Vernon Orndorff [Withdrawn]||Palm Coast, Fla.||Executive Director of Leadership|
|Flagler County Schools.|
|Ryan Place||New Bedford, Mass.||Director of Special Education||Global Learning Charter Public School.|
[Did not qualify]
|Pueblo, Colo.||Secondary Mathematics and Digital Specialist||District 60 Pueblo City Schools.
|Jason Spencer||Oxford, Fla.||High School Principal||The Villages Charter School.|
[Did not qualify]
|Port Orange, Fla.||Spruce Creek High School Principal.||Volusia County Schools|
|Geneva A. Stark||Mt. Washington, Ky.||District Human Resouce|
|Jefferson County Public Schools, Ky.|
|James Stroder||Emigrant, Mont.||Superintendent||Gardiner School District, Mont. (200 students).
|James Tager||Port Orange, Fla.||High School Principal, Atlantic High School||Volusia County Schools.|
|New Bremen, Ohio||Superintendent||New Bremen Local Schools, Ohio (800 students).|
|Jeffrey Umbaugh||Middleburg, Fla.||Assistant Superintendent for Instruction.||Clay County Schools.|
|Charlie Van Zant Jr.||Keystone Heights||Deputy Commander.||Florida Army National Guard.
|Gerald Wilson||Berlin, Md.||Not employed.||None.|
|Scott Woolstenhulme||Idaho Falls, Idaho||Assistant Superintendent||Bonneville Joint School District 93, Idaho. (12,000 students)