The search is on for Polk County Public Schools’ next superintendent! Working with the Florida School Boards Association, teachers, staff, community members, and a team of student super(intendent) sleuths, we are seeking a superintendent who will unite our employees, rally the support of our stakeholders, forge a brighter future for our district, and always put Students First. Check this page regularly for updates on the search process and ways you can be involved in selecting our school district’s next leader.



At Polk County Public Schools, when we say we put Students First, we mean we put them at the center of everything — even the search for our next superintendent. To help us find our next leader, we’ve recruited a team of student super(intendent) sleuths. Like all of our students, each of our sleuths has unique abilities, backgrounds, challenges and ambitions. Combined, they form an unstoppable search force. Meet the sleuths, and find out what they’re looking for in our next superintendent of schools.

Jr. Superintendent

Brynne Smith is a fifth-grader at Carlton Palmore Elementary, who is accustomed to being in the spotlight. Not only has she played Polk County Public Schools’ Junior Superintendent in previous productions, she’s also a dancer, singer, and aspiring actress who dreams of seeing her name in lights one day. As Junior Superintendent, Brynne has had the chance to interact with district leaders; she also has two siblings who have special needs, all of which gives her a unique perspective on what PCPS needs in its next superintendent: “We need someone who is bossy, will make recess longer, will make homework easier, and will help my brother and sister.”

Agent Alyson

Alyson Bences, aka Agent Alyson, is a junior at Ridge Community High. She is a student government representative, serves as editor-in-chief of the yearbook, and is studying in the district’s ELITE (Establishing Leaders in Teacher Education) program. This year, she’s taking her academic classes through PCPS’ newly created Campus eSchool, which allows students to remain enrolled at their brick-and-mortar schools but take part in virtual learning. While she is inspired by famous on-screen secret agents such as Maria Hill (The Avengers), when it comes to sharing what she’s looking for in the next superintendent, Alyson isn’t keeping anything quiet: “I want a superintendent who likes to talk to and get to know the students.”

Alessandro Spade

Alessandro Mejia, aka Alessandro Spade, is a sophomore at Harrison School for the Arts who plans to study musical theatre and become a professional performer. Like his film noir inspiration — Sam Spade played by Humphrey Bogart in “The Maltese Falcon” — Alessandro is a hard-nosed investigator. He has questions — lots of them — and he won’t stop until he gets answers. How will PCPS’ next superintendent help students uncover their passion for the arts? How will he or she help promote and protect arts education? The arts, we all know, are the stuff that dreams are made of. Alessandro Spade won’t rest until he finds an art-loving superintendent for Polk County Public Schools.

Trenton Holmes

Trenton Thomas, aka Trenton Holmes, is a seventh-grader at Davenport School of the Arts who enjoys reading, learning new things and acting in plays. One day, he hopes to trade in his tweed frock coat and magnifying glass for the cooler attire of a cinematographer or music producer. Until then, he’s searching for clues that will lead him to the ideal superintendent candidate. As he puts it, “We need someone who can see that people come from different backgrounds and learn in different ways. We need a team player, who can keep us all safe.” That’s not elementary, Trenton; that’s eloquent!

Tyler, P.I.

Tyler Mercier, aka Tyler, P.I., deferred his diploma from Doris A. Sanders Learning Center to study in Polk County Public Schools’ Transition program. Through a specialized curriculum, Tyler — who has autism and experiences seizures — is developing life and job skills that will help him long after he leaves the district. Inspired by Tom Selleck’s Magnum, P.I., Tyler is a tenacious investigator. PCPS’ next superintendent must be a passionate advocate for students with special needs, and Tyler won’t stop until the case leads him to the ideal candidate. Does he get to wear Hawaiian shirts for the duration of the search? Yes. Does he get to drive a Ferrari? Sadly, no, but he can ride on all the school buses he likes.



Polk County Public Schools and the Florida School Boards Association aim to have a new superintendent of schools in place by July 1, 2021. The process until then includes surveys, community forums and interviews with candidates. Take a look at the search timeline below.

August 22, 2020
Board work session — Initial discussion regarding search timeline and associated activities (2 p.m.)
September 3, 2020
Special board work session — pre-search discussion and review of draft timeline (1 p.m.)
September 29, 2020
Special board work session — Review of revised timeline; update on dates/format of community, staff and student forums; initial review of online survey for community and staff; discuss and review school board policy 1020 and superintendent job description, if applicable; website search portal update (1 p.m.)
October 2, 2020
Press release/social media announcing: 1) superintendent search, 2) on-line surveys, 3) community & staff forums and 4) website search portal
October 12, 2020
Online community and staff surveys go live
October 13, 2020
Board work session — Discussion regarding citizens screening committee membership, review draft search brochure (11:30 a.m.)
October 19, 2020
Community Forum — Jim Miles Professional Development Center, 4270 Wallace Road, Lakeland, 6 p.m., with welcome by School Board member Kay Fields
October 20, 2020
October 20, 2020 Community Forum — Winter Haven High School cafeteria, 600 6th St. SE, Winter Haven, 6 p.m., with welcome by School Board member
Sara Beth Reynolds
October 21, 2020
Administrative staff forum — Winter Haven High School cafeteria, 600 6th St. SE, Winter Haven, 4:30 p.m., with welcome by School Board Vice Chairman Lynn Wilson

Instructional and educational support staff forum — Winter Haven High School cafeteria, 6 p.m., with welcome by School Board member Lisa Miller
October 22, 2020
Student forum - Virtual Format (12:30 p.m.) with welcome by School Board member Billy Townsend

Community forum — Haines City High School cafeteria, 2800 Hornet Drive, Haines City, 6 p.m., with welcome by School Board Chairman Lori Cunningham
November 12, 2020
Online surveys close
Week of November 16, 2020
Survey results provided to board members
November 23-27, 2020
Fall break
November 30, 2020
Special board work session — Determine qualities and characteristics needed in the next superintendent, salary range, minimum/preferred qualifications, length of contract offered, and contents of application packet; identify venues for advertisements; finalize search brochure; discuss membership of citizens screening committee and rules of procedure; review timeline (1 p.m.)
December 4, 2020
Advertisements posted — Application period begins (NOTE: Upon receipt of completed applicant packets, applicant packets will be submitted to board members electronically and posted within the superintendent search website portal.)
December 21, 2020 thru January 1, 2021
Winter break
January 12, 2021
Special board meeting — Appoint members of citizens screening committee; approve rules of procedure; initial review of finalists' interview schedule (1 p.m.)
January 28, 2021
Citizens screening committee orientation meeting —
Jim Miles Professional Development Center (6 p.m.)
January 31, 2021
Advertisement period closes (deadline is midnight)
February 11, 2021
Citizens screening committee meeting —
Jim Miles Professional Development Center (6 p.m.)
February 18, 2021
Citizens screening committee third meeting — Jim Miles Professional Development Center (6 p.m.)
(Candidates identified by the committee will be moved forward to the board for their consideration following the conclusion of this meeting.)
February 23, 2021
Board meeting — Accept submissions from citizens screening committee and release members from Sunshine; discuss process for identifying semi-finalists (no ranking), if desired by the board (5:00 p.m.)
March 16, 2021
Special board work session — Identify semifinalists and questions for semifinalists (if applicable); discuss process for moving from semifinalists to finalists (if applicable); discuss process for selecting finalists; refine interview schedule for finalists; review contract negotiation items/process (1 p.m.)
March 18, 2021
FSBA submits questions to semifinalists for written/video responses (if applicable)
March 22-26, 2021
Spring break
March 29, 2021
Semifinalists' responses due back to FSBA for submission to board members and posting to portal
April 13, 2021
Special board meeting to select finalists (no ranking) — Discuss board member questions for finalists; address finalists’ interview schedule as needed; address method/process for selection of superintendent and contract negotiation items/process (1 p.m.)
Week of April 19, 2021
On-site finalist interviews — To include school board collectively and school board members individually (NOTE: Other activities, locations and times TBD.)
April 27, 2021
Special board meeting — Select superintendent; discussion regarding contract negotiations (5 p.m.)
April 28, 2021
Contract negotiations begin
May 11, 2021
Board meeting — Approve contract with effective start date (5 p.m.)
May 12, 2021
Transition period begins
July 1, 2021
New superintendent start date
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School Board members were updated on the search process, including the community screening committee and plans for virtual community forums.