A current state education chancellor and two New York administrators with Florida ties were selected Tuesday as finalists for state education commissioner.
The finalists selected by the Florida Board of Education included Cheri Pierson Yecke, the state’s K-12 chancellor of education and former Minnesota education commissioner; Eric J. Smith, a senior vice president with the College Board in New York City; and Joseph Marinelli, a district superintendent for five New York state districts.
The state’s education commissioner heads the Department of Education, overseeing public schools, pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as community colleges.
Board members interviewed seven candidates for the job Monday and decided to pare the field to three. More interviews, and a likely selection, will take place Oct. 8 in Tampa, chairman T. Willard Fair said.
Smith’s name appeared most often on board members’ lists of finalist choices. At least three board members said they were ready to name their top choice Tuesday, but the panel decided instead to wait.
“This is too important a selection to rush into it,” board member Linda Taylor said.
Smith has been with the College Board, which administers the SAT entrance exam, since last year. He previously was a superintendent in Annapolis, Md., and Charlotte, N.C. He managed planning for Volusia schools in 1988-90 after serving as a principal in Winter Park.
Marinelli has overseen a five-county school district for the past 13 years. He has held other administrative jobs New York state and was superintendent in Livonia, Mich. In Florida, he led project development for Orange County schools in 1977-79 and before that was Florida’s education lobbyist in Washington.
The new commissioner will take over for acting Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg, who took the role temporarily after Commissioner John Winn retired in February. She did not apply for the permanent job.
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