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Published in Print: July 14, 1999, as Summer Season Marks Turnover at Top in Several Large Districts

Summer Season Marks Turnover at Top in Several Large Districts

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Broward County, Fla., Denver, and Montgomery County, Md., are among the large school districts that will enter the new school year with changes at the top.

On July 1, the Broward County school board named a former top administrator in San Diego, Franklin L. Till Jr., to head the 232,000-student system north of Miami. He replaces Frank R. Petruzielo, who left in January after five years as superintendent.

Franklin L. Till Jr.

Mr. Till, 52, has worked in the 138,000-student San Diego system for nearly three decades, first serving as a teacher and moving up through the administrative ranks over the years. His last position was senior deputy to the superintendent. He is scheduled to begin work in Broward County on Aug. 1; his contract runs through July 31, 2003.

He spent the last week of June in Broward negotiating a contract with the nine-member school board. The final contract includes an annual salary of $175,000 a year--some $3,000 more than Mr. Petruzielo was earning--along with moving expenses, an $800-a-month car allowance, and opportunities for annual bonuses totaling up to 25 percent of his base salary. The criteria for the incentives will be determined by the school board and Mr. Till each year.

Weast Heads to Md.

After a false start with a choice that didn't pan out, the Montgomery County, Md., school board has tapped a North Carolina administrator for its top job.

Jerry D. Weast, who now heads the Guilford County, N.C., schools, is expected to succeed Paul L. Vance, who is retiring after eight years leading the growing and affluent district in suburban Washington. With 128,000 students, Montgomery County is Maryland's second-largest district.

The choice of Mr. Weast came after the board stumbled with an earlier choice this spring, picking a deputy superintendent of the Baltimore County, Md., schools, but then asking for her withdrawal after her past personal financial problems came to light.

Mr. Weast came to Guilford County, which includes Greensboro, in 1993 after heading the Sioux Falls, S.D., schools. He has been a superintendent for 25 years, starting in his native Kansas and moving on to jobs in Great Falls, Mont. and Durham, N.C.

The 51-year-old administrator won credit during his tenure in Guilford County for melding three formerly separate school systems into one and for raising test scores.

Details of Mr. Wease's contract were not yet final last week.

Denver Chief Retires

Denver Superintendent Irv Moskowitz retired last month after a sometimes rocky five-year tenure.

Mr. Moskowitz, 64, announced his plans to step down in February, saying that his goals for raising student achievement in the 69,000-student district had been met. He left the system June 30 and began work July 1 at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, where he is setting up a new Center for Urban Education, a training and research center.

On June 23, the Denver school board named Sharon Johnson, the former assistant superintendent for administrative services and a 33-year veteran of the system, as the interim superintendent.

Her contract runs from July 1 until Sept. 30, or until the board chooses a permanent replacement.

Zacarias' Contract Extended

In the nation's second-largest district, the Los Angeles school board has voted to extend Superintendent Ruben Zacarias' contract an additional year, through June 2001. His former contract was to have expired in July 2000.

Ruben Zacarias

The June 22 vote--5 yes, 1 no, and 1 abstaining--raised some controversy because it was one of the final acts of the outgoing seven-member panel.

One incumbent board member and three reform-minded newcomers who won seats earlier this year--all of whom were backed by Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan--were sworn in July 1. ("L.A. Mayor Has Key Role in Board Race," April 7, 1999.)

To quell the controversy, Mr. Zacarias, 70, has invited the new board to evaluate his job performance in six months. If members are not satisfied with his performance, Mr. Zacarias has promised to waive the contract extension and step down from the $188,000-a-year post.

"I have confidence in the progress we are making," Mr. Zacarias said last month. "If the new board feels they cannot support me, then I'll waive my fourth year and any benefits or compensation rights."

K.C. Prospects Dim

Following the lead of Seattle, the District of Columbia, and New Orleans, the first choice of the school board in Kansas City, Mo., for a superintendent had come down to a retired U.S. Air Force major general with no experience working in public education.

But contract negotiations between the board and Jay T. Edwards, 68, broke off over pay and incentives early this month.

Mr. Edwards is currently the general administrator of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in Oklahoma City, which regulates public utilities in the state. He was chosen to lead the 36,000-student system from a field of four finalists.

Shortly after he withdrew his application, the school board offered the job to Pascal D. Forgione, Jr., 54, one of the remaining finalists for the position.

But Mr. Forgione, a former state superintendent in Delaware who, from 1996 until last month, had led the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, withdrew his application July 6. He cited contract problems and concern over mounting tensions between him and the school board, according to The Kansas City Star.

Last week, the board was reviewing its remaining finalists.

Until a permanent superintendent is hired, two administrators will continue to share the job of interim superintendent. Phyllis Chase will remain the district's interim chief administrator of curriculum and instruction, and Bonnie McKelvy will continue as interim chief administrator for business and finance.

Vol. 18, Issue 42, Page 11

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