School Board narrows superintendent search to 6 semifinalists

The Indian River County School Board has selected six semifinalists for the district’s vacant superintendent position, including a former inner-city teacher who rose to the rank of regional school superintendent in Palm Beach County, the 10th largest district in the nation.

Other candidates range from a veteran superintendent from Georgia to longtime assistant and associate superintendents vying for an opportunity to be the top leader in a school district.

The board will interview the semi-finalists on Thursday and Saturday.

“We’re very pleased with the quality of applicants we have to choose from,” said Board Chairman Laura Zorc. “We have some excellent candidates.”

The district’s nationwide search attracted 36 candidates, offering an annual salary of up to $178,000. Two of the semifinalists would be taking a pay cut if offered the job.

Semifinalists include Margaret “Peggy” Aune, who has served as associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Collier County Public Schools, in Naples, Florida, for the past two years.

Aune began her career in 2000 as an exceptional student education teacher for Manatee Middle School in the Collier district, and has also been a middle school principal. Her current salary as associate superintendent is $154,000.

Brennan Asplen III has served as deputy superintendent for academic & student services at St. Johns County School District, in St. Augustine, Florida, for the past four years.

He began his career as a secondary mathematics teacher for Seminole County Schools in 1988, and served as a middle and high school principal for 16 years. He worked as associate superintendent for human resources in the St. Johns district before being promoted to his current position. His current annual salary is $140,000.

Michael Dunsmore has been superintendent of Wayne County Public Schools, Goldsboro, North Carolina, since 2015. Previously, he served as superintendent of schools in Tyrell County for 6 years. His current annual salary is $192,500.

Dunsmore inherited a school district in Wayne County that had 14 “low performing” schools in danger of being taken over by the state. During the past five years, seven of those schools have shown enough academic progress to be removed from the state’s “take-over” list, and four others are within 2 percent of performing well enough to be removed.

Earlier in his academic career Dunsmore served as a middle school life skills teacher and a special education teacher.

Peter Licata started his career in education as an inner-city teacher and coach at Olympic Heights Community High School in the School District of Palm Beach County. After several years he was promoted to be the school’s principal. In that position, he was recognized by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for leading the efforts to dramatically improve the school’s graduation rates and reading scores.

He’s currently a regional superintendent earning $160,000 per year.

David Moore has been an educator for 24 years, serving the past six years as assistant superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the fourth largest district in the nation – and one of the country’s highest performing urban school districts.

During his tenure with the district he’s also worked as a teacher, counselor, assistant principal and principal. As assistant superintendent, he oversees the district’s Division of Academic Support. Moore lists a current annual salary of $149,003 on his application.

Charles Randy Shearouse has been superintendent of Effingham County School District, Springfield, Georgia, for the past 14 years. During his 31 years as an educator, he’s also served as a teacher and high school principal in the district.

With him as superintendent, graduation rates for African-American students increased from 48.9 percent in 2006 to 96.1 percent in 2018, according to his resume. Overall student graduation rates have increased from 69.4 percent to 91.3 percent during the same period.

During his tenure the district has also completed more than $82 million in construction projects with no long-term debt. His current salary is $198,000, but says he would take a reduced salary for an opportunity to lead a larger school district.

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