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Four Finalists Emerge in Palm Beach Superintendent Search


Since this item was published Thursday morning, St. Paul, Minn., schools Superintendent Valeria Silva has withdrawn her candidacy for top job in the Palm Beach County, Fla., school district. Silva, a longtime St. Paul schools administrator who recently signed a three-year contract extension, hosted a news conference Thursday afternoon to announce her plans to stay in Minnesota.

The Palm Beach County, Fla., school board has selected four finalists in their search to find a new superintendent for the nation's 11th largest school district.

The candidates are:

  • Robert Avossa, superintendent, Fulton County, Ga., schools;
  • Desmond Blackburn, chief of school performance and accountability, Broward County, Fla., schools;
  • Jesus Jara, deputy superintendent, Orange County, Fla., schools;
  • Valeria Silva, superintendent, St. Paul, Minn., schools.

Board members will interview the finalists during a public meeting scheduled April 16. The meeting will be broadcast live at 2 p.m. EST online at www.palmbeachschools.org

The board has been on the hunt for a new superintendent since January, when Wayne Gent announced he would step down after three years at the helm. The 180,000-student school system has had three superintendents in the past five years.

The Palm Beach schools chief's job attracted 72 applicants, including several internal candidates. The school board opted not to interview several high-profile hopefuls, including former Hillsborough County, Fla., schools chief MaryEllen Elia, who was a finalist for the 2015 National Superintendent of the Year award.

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