Escambia School Superintendent Candidates Interviewed; Selection Set For Tuesday

August 28, 2020

The four finalists to be the next Escambia County’s next school superintendent were in the hot seat Thursday for questions from the school board and public. One of them will be named superintendent next Tuesday.

The finalist are Dr. Earl Johnson, executive director of leadership/operations for the Flagler County Schools with 13,000 students; Keith C. Rittel, superintendent in Provo Utah, with 18,000 students;  Dr. Timothy A. Smith, executive director of high schools in Orange County with 212,000 students; and Keith Leonard, assistant superintendent of human resources in Escambia County with 40,500 students.

Each faced a series of question from the Escambia County School Board Thursday, and each finalist had 15 minutes Thursday night to answer questions submitted by community members. The interviews are available on the Escambia County School District YoutTube channel.

The finalists will individually meet one on one with each school board member on Friday.

The Escambia County School Board is scheduled to name the next superintendent Tuesday evening. Contract negotiations with the man selected will begin on Tuesday, and the board will vote on ratifying the contract on September 15.

In November 2018, Escambia County citizens voted to move from an elected to an appointed superintendent. Malcolm Thomas, the current elected superintendent, will retire in November.

Images for, click to enlarge.


14 Responses to “Escambia School Superintendent Candidates Interviewed; Selection Set For Tuesday”

  1. Joe Noplis on November 24th, 2020 1:30 pm

    You pick a Leader based on their Track Record and Historical Facts. Who will Lead the Escambia School District for the Next Decade and Improve what Malcolm Thomas has done. It should Not be based on one’s Color, Creed, Religion, or connections. Time will tell if Dr. Smith was a Good Selection!

  2. Cathy on August 29th, 2020 5:44 pm

    It sounds like Keith Leonard is a great guy. But if you lined up all 4 resumes, and removed the names, Mr. Leonard’s would be at the very bottom. Not because he isn’t a great guy but because his work experience and education pales in comparison to the other 3. The School District has spent 2 years on this process and there was a huge expensive campaign to get to an appointed Super, just to appoint the local guy with the least experience? Again, Mr. Leonard sounds like a super person, but he’s never spent any time working outside of Escambia. We’re one of the lowest performing districts in the nation, we need big time help!!

  3. Keith for the win on August 28th, 2020 11:29 pm

    Too bad we can’t vote. Cause I’d vote for Keith!

  4. John Bodie on August 28th, 2020 8:35 pm

    Oh boy, Keith is a nice fellow. But not the man for the job, too much good ole boy mentality. I worked there for almost 20 years. Bad idea.

  5. Deirdre Ryan on August 28th, 2020 6:37 pm

    Although Mr. Leonard will get the selection, because it is Pensacola, I feel like the voters opted for an appointed Superintendent to cull the country for some “new” ideas. The candidates should have been a principal or at least spent many years in a classroom as a teacher. If we stay with the stars quo we will get the status quo…we need better than that.

  6. Richard Fry on August 28th, 2020 5:52 pm

    If someone finds a candidate “NOT FIT,” he or she need not give a reason for that opinion. A voter need NEVER explain his choices or opinions; only candidates are required to “explain” or to give reasons for their opinions.

    I am Richard-Wayne: Fry

  7. Tom on August 28th, 2020 5:38 pm

    You know I have to give credit to the citizens of this county for voting to make the superintendent a non-elected job. I firmly believe we owe it to ourselves and our kids to keep politics of any sort out of the education system as much as possible, If only the same could be said for all these elected judges…Oh well one step at a time, I’m all for keeping local talent (Leonard) but the other candidates should be just as equally considered, I checked up (as much as I could) on the resumes of the others and they are all qualified some more than others. I won’t give my personal opinion of who I prefer but I will say outside talent is not necessarily a bad thing, it often brings new ideas and methods to the area we could take advantage of. Change is often times not a bad thing…

  8. CW on August 28th, 2020 1:54 pm

    I pray Mr. Leonard wins it!!! He’s the best for the job, in my

  9. Angelique on August 28th, 2020 1:48 pm

    The local candidate would have a better understanding of what our children need, as he has lived here.

  10. AR on August 28th, 2020 12:18 pm

    I believe Keith Leonard is the perfect fit for the job. I have known Keith for over 20 years. Both of my kids had him as a teacher when they were in high school and loved him. Keith always tries to raise the bar on anything he gets involved with and has always been successful in doing so. Keith has been in the system for years, however not a “good ol boy” as some suggest, but knows the improvements the school system needs to be the best it can be for the students.

  11. Preachman on August 28th, 2020 10:20 am

    Dr. Johnson and Mr. Smith did a good job of presenting themselves. Mr. Leonard hit a Grand Slam though. In times like these, the 34 consecutive years of Coach Leonard’s impeccable track record and sincere honesty has to strongly be considered. I fully support we need someone day 1 ready for the task and ready to carry this district forward, not for political reasons but for the pupils of Escambia County who deserve the best from top down and bottom up.

  12. 85 Tater on August 28th, 2020 10:09 am

    Mr. Leonard has my backing!

  13. fisherman on August 28th, 2020 9:26 am

    @ Anne
    Please explain your reasoning for “NOT FIT”
    I don’t feel that we were snookered in.Each individual that voted for Appointed Superintendent had their reason.I myself would never give my right to vote someone into office away.We need better turn out for elections when you get a 25-35% of registered voter turn out for an election that’s terrible.In November I would like to see at least a 75% voter turn out and that will not happen.Those that don’t vote are usually the one to complain the most.If you don’t vote you lose the right to complain.

  14. Anne on August 28th, 2020 6:39 am

    KEITH LEONARD..!!!!! Gotta be Keith…

    Viewed the other candidates and they just seem to “NOT FIT” for Escambia County School District.

    Still amazed that we were snookered into voting for an Appointed Supt.
    What is the true intention of that bunch including MR Man that manipulated that???