Posted: 12:29 pm Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

PBC’s teachers union endorses Jones for superintendent, adds that it would ‘welcome’ Gent keeping his position 

By Allison Ross

Palm Beach County’s teachers union, the Classroom Teachers Association, has announced that it is endorsing Constance Jones for the superintendent position.

Constance Jones

However, in a statement released today, the union continues to suggest that perhaps interim Superintendent Wayne Gent should be allowed to be considered for the more permanent position. Gent’s contract as interim superintendent bars him from consideration for the permanent position.

“CTA believes the students of Palm Beach have been well-served under the leadership of current Interim Superintendent Wayne Gent and would welcome the opportunity to continue to work with him if the School Board lifts the restriction to allow Gent to become permanent Superintendent,” the statement read.

Jones, 61, the current chief academic officer for the Lee County School District, “seems to have it all — from business acumen to classroom experience,” CTA President Debra Wilhelm said in a statement. “She is familiar with South Florida‟s diversity and demonstrates a passion for educational excellence.”

The statement notes that Janis Andrews, 58, assistant superintendent of curriculum and learning support for the Palm Beach County School District, is another strong candidate for the position.

But it blasted the third finalist for the job, Tom Watkins, claiming he is not a “viable candidate.”

Watkins, 58 is the former superintendent of public instruction for the state of Michigan and former president and chief executive of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County. His application for the superintendent job has come under fire by some vocal teachers and parents, who claim he does not have the required background as an “educator” to be able to lead the nation’s 11th-largest school district.

“He was clearly unprepared, and had not ‘done his homework’ to even know about Marzano — the system chosen by Palm Beach County for new teacher evaluation standards as required by law,” the CTA’s statement read. “His lack of support for traditional public schools was also of extreme concern for teachers.”

Two other unions representing school district employees — the SEIU-Florida Public Services Union and the Association of Educational Secretaries and Office Professionals (AESOP) — are expected to release a joint statement this afternoon regarding the superintendent search.

The school board will hold a meet-and-greet for the public from 5-7 p.m. tonight at Glades Central High School, and will interview all three candidates publicly Wednesday. The board is expected to choose a new superintendent on Feb. 15.