Join us today in singing the praises of unsung hero Mitsi Corcoran, who may feel as though she just stepped off a roller coaster she’d been riding for 10 months.
She was minding her own business as assistant superintendent and chief financial officer of the Sarasota County School District last fall when her boss, the superintendent, was forced out for bungling the response to another assistant superintendent’s sexual harassment of a subordinate.
In November 2019, the School Board turned to her, voting unanimously to make her the acting superintendent, with an interim superintendent to be named in about a month.
But neither of the likely candidates for the interim position agreed to take the job. So the board asked Corcoran to stay on until the position was filled on a permanent basis sometime this year.
She was plugging along, fulfilling all her responsibilities, old and new, when she got wind of something called “the coronavirus” and people started talking about the possibility the schools might need to be shut down to prevent the spread of it.
Then they were, but with about two months left in the school year. Her new task — one no previous superintendent had to pull off — was to complete the school year with online classes, after first making sure all students have the necessary technology.
Oh, and also to see to it that kids dependent on schools meals continued to get fed.
While helping the School Board through the process of finding a permanent superintendent.
And preparing for the next school year under state guidance that shifted like desert sand but that included a mandate for in-person classes five days a week.
In August she was finally able to hand everything off to the new superintendent, achieving her goal, which according to media reports was only to help him “hit the ground running.”
As of this week, new Superintendent Brennan Asplen III has been on the job for a month; schools have reopened with — so far — minimal COVID-19 cases, and none among staff; and the remote learning process, while still not ideal, has been revamped and improved.
We’d call that missions accomplished for Corcoran.
In the turmoil caused by the departure of the previous superintendent, what the district needed was a familiar face and a calm hand to steer the ship until a new captain could be named.
Little did anyone know at the time how rough the seas would get.
But Corcoran was no stranger to the vicissitudes of government work, having come to the district in 2007 after a decade of working for the county as general manager of financial services and in the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Finance Division.
She was the right person at the right time.
In YouTube updates about restarting lessons after the schools closed, Corcoran was effusive in praising everyone who worked so hard to put classes online and distribute food to families that needed it. And deservedly so. It took the efforts of hundreds of people to pull it off as well as it went under the circumstances.
But if anyone gave her a pat on the back for overseeing everything, we missed it. Hence, this editorial.
Thanks for everything, Mitsi.