Superintendent defends choice for finance chief

skinney@keynoter.comAugust 27, 2013 


BY SEAN KINNEY — skinney@keynoter.com

James Drake is the Monroe County School District’s new finance director following a 4-1 vote by the School Board Tuesday evening. But, as promised, board member Ed Davidson criticized Superintendent Mark Porter’s selection and hiring process.

Drake came to Monroe County in April to replace the ousted former Finance Director Ken Gentile.

His new contract, valid until June 30 next year, is worth $91,004; his four-and-a-half month interim deal was worth $47,040.

Davidson said Porter’s selection process -- conducted largely this month -- caused the School District to miss out on a number of potential applicants who took other education jobs that began in June and July ahead of the August start of the school year.

“This is not a thorough search,” Davidson said. “I don’t think this was a valid search at all. I find that problematic.”

He called it a “scam and a charade.”

Without going into detail, Porter responded, “We did go through with a thorough process in this regard. I believe it was a proper process, a well-conducted process.”

As Davidson continued his criticisms, board Chairman Andy Griffiths cut him off, albeit temporarily.

“I just counted four votes,” Griffiths told Davidson. “You’re basically beating up someone who is going to be our future team member. That’s not appropriate.”

“You’re making a big mistake,” Davidson said.

“If he fails,” board member John Dick said, “it’s a reflection on Mr. Porter. That’s the leverage we do have. I personally think [Davidson] was right about this process.”

Porter made his recommendation to the School Board in a meeting at Coral Shores High School in Tavernier Tuesday night.

Drake formerly served as assistant superintendent of business services for the Manatee county School District and, before that, for 22 years with the Florida Auditor General’s Office specializing in school district audits.

The measure passed 4-1 with Davidson dissenting.

KeysNet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service