Local News

6 apply to governor to fill vacant school board seat

SEBRING - Six applicants are seeking appointment from the governor to fill the school board seat vacated by Andy Tuck's resignation to take a seat on the State Board of Education.

Tuck resigned from the District 5 School Board of Highlands County seat after Gov. Rick Scott announced Jan. 29 that he selected Tuck for the state board.

Governor Scott's Press Secretary Jackie Schutz said Friday, "There is no time-line for an appointment to be made."

The six who applied to the governor's office for appointment to fill the District 5 seat are: Jill Compton, Clinton Culverhouse, Robert Ervin, William Hutchinson, Trevor Murphy and Dustin Woods.

Three of those who applied for the appointment have pre-filed to run in the election to fill the District 5 seat: Culverhouse, who is a City of Avon Park firefighter; Hutchinson, who was in the citrus nursery business, and Dustin Woods, who is the lead pastor of Grace Bible Church.

Compton is an exceptional student education teacher at the Kindergarten Learning Center.

Ervin is a general counsel with the real estate firm CHL Holdings, Inc.

Murphy founded the Avon Park-based Murphy Ag Solutions, Inc. (specialty fertilizer products) in May 2009.

Following are excerpts from how the applicants responded to a question about their experiences, interests or elements of their personal history that qualify them for the appointment.

Compton said, "The local education system is of great importance to me. I have been an educator in this community since 1998. I have worked in each level, elementary, middle and high school, so I could bring in perspective from the educators' view."

Culverhouse said, "I possess a passionate commitment to communicate the educational vision, values and concerns of the community, in an effort to improve and uphold public education."

Ervin said, "Involved parent of two school-aged children that attend public school in Highlands County. Believe that quality public education should be afforded to all students."

Hutchinson said, "In 2007, after substitute teaching in Highlands County ... I realized, checking FCAT grades, only three districts in Florida had a higher percentage of D's and F's than us." Since 2007, he has served as a school volunteer and attended school board meetings, legislative sessions and education summits.

Murphy said, "I have a strong background and family history with the local school system. Through the years I've volunteered my time to the local schools in a variety of ways including fund-raising efforts, Ag Literacy Days and United Way's Reading Pals program."

Woods said, "I have faithfully volunteered for the local school system over the last six years. My volunteer activities have included developing systems for mentoring students, participating on event planning teams, coordinating and developing an interscholastic reading enhancement program for elementary students ... ."

School Board Member Donna Howerton commented on the selection process.

She noted that Tuck's seat is up for reelection. If no runoff election is needed, the winner will be determined in the Aug. 26 Primary Election.

Then the governor could appoint the winner of the election, Howerton said. This would put the person in office prior to the traditional swearing in of the election winner in November.

"I would almost like to see it go through that course, but that's the governor's decision," she said. If the governor appointed one of the candidates for the seat it would give that candidate an advantage.

Commenting on having four board members, Howerton said in her 18 years on the board there may have been one time that there was a tie vote.

"So hopefully we won't be put in that position," she said.

School board elections are nonpartisan. If no candidate receives a majority vote in the primary election, the top two vote-getters will vie for the seat in a runoff in the Nov. 4 General Election.