In a rare unanimous decision, the Sarasota County School Board decided Tuesday to interview all five superintendent candidates recommended by the district’s nominating committee.

The Sarasota County School Board is looking for a superintendent to replace Todd Bowden who parted ways with the district at the beginning of 2020. The board members enlisted the help of the Florida School Board Association as well as a volunteer screening committee they appointed last month.

The committee recommended five finalists, all from Florida — including three administrators from the Palm Beach County School District — from a field of 31 applicants.

During a special meeting Tuesday, the school board had the opportunity to mark which of the five candidates they wanted to bring in for in-person interviews. In the end, they chose to interview all five.

The finalists are:

• Brennan Asplen, superintendent of St. Johns County School District.

• Peter Licata, regional superintendent for the school district of Palm Beach County School District.

• Keith Oswald, deputy superintendent for the Palm Beach County School District.

• Gonzalo La Cava, chief of human resources for the school district of Palm Beach County School District.

• Marie Izquierdo, chief academic officer for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Licata, La Cava and Izquierdo had the approval of all the School Board members. The other two received votes from three or more board members who wished to bring them in.

“Any of these people are great,” School Board member Jane Goodwin. “They all I think are worthy. We had such great candidates this time.”

Board chair Caroline Zucker said in her opinion, nothing replaces personal, in-person interaction.

“Each one of them brought in something different, each one of them was different in their answers as well as their writing,” Zucker said.

The five will interview on site with the board members and have the opportunity to tour the district from June 30 to July 2.

On July 1, each candidate will tour the county and schools on a county school bus, with their name on the side. At 6 p.m. that evening, there will be a virtual question-and-answer session, where each candidate will have 20 minutes to answer questions submitted from the public.

The following day, July 2, School Board members will conduct one-on-one interviews with each candidate. School Board members will have an hour with each.

All candidates were required to answer questions from board members and submit both written and video response.

The public can view candidates resumes, written and video responses at sarasotacountyschools.net/Page/3675

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