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Kurt Browning sworn in as Pasco County schools superintendent

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Published:   |   Updated: May 16, 2013 at 09:17 PM
LAND O' LAKES -

The time had arrived, and Kurt Browning was more than ready.

"Let's do it," he said.

Moments later, with his wife, Kathy, at his side, Browning took the oath of office Tuesday to become Pasco County's schools superintendent, as friends and colleagues cheered and applauded.

"Words can't express the honor and gratitude I have today sitting here as the superintendent of the best school district in Florida," Browning said.

Browning defeated incumbent Heather Fiorentino in the Republican primary in August. He faced only write-in opposition in the Nov. 6 election, so he began working on his transition immediately after the primary.

The former secretary of state, Browning also served for more than 20 years as supervisor of elections in Pasco. Tuesday, he said he was ready to get down to business and wasted no time.

Before Tuesday's board meeting, Browning had already submitted a plan for restructuring the administrative leadership at district headquarters, reducing the number of assistant superintendents from four to two.

Under the reorganization, the school district will have an assistant superintendent for student achievement and an assistant superintendent for administration and operations.

The plan also combines the leadership development and staff development departments under one director.

In addition, the chief finance officer, who previously reported directly to the superintendent, will now report to the assistant superintendent for administration and operations.

School board members approved the job changes without comment. Browning still hasn't decided who will fill the positions, but he said he expects to submit names to the board at the Dec. 4 meeting.

Browning said as the district makes decisions on budgets, policies, hiring and dismissals in the coming years, he wants the district to be driven by the question "Is it best for the kids?"

Browning expressed gratitude to Fiorentino for her cooperation with his transition and allowing him access to district staff members so they could brief him on issues the district faces.

"She was most accommodating and willing to have me come into the district so there would be a smooth transition," Browning said.

Lynne Webb, president of United School Employees of Pasco, said Tuesday was an opportunity to "reflect on all that is good in our system."

Webb, who noted that Browning will be the fourth superintendent she has worked with, said if everyone works together and communicates, "we can make life better here for our employees" and improve educational opportunities for the students.

Although the focus Tuesday morning was on Browning, he wasn't the only one taking the oath of office. Board member Joanne Hurley, who won re-election to her second four-year term in August, and board member Alison Crumbley, who was unopposed in her re-election bid, also were sworn in.

In addition, Cynthia Armstrong was elected chairwoman of the board for the coming year and Crumbley was elected vice chairwoman.


rblair@tampatrib.com (813) 371-1853 Twitter: @RBlairTBO

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