Fran Adams picked for Indian River County Schools superintendent

Adams replaces Harry La Cava, who retires in June

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The Indian River County School Board went with the internal candidate's experience Tuesday, voting to hire district assistant superintendent of curriculum Fran Adams as the district's next superintendent.

Adams will replace Harry La Cava, who is retiring in June. Adams has been with the district for about 28 years. She has been principal of both high schools and Citrus Elementary in addition to her current position.

"It's important to recognize Indian River produces candidates and teachers who can rise to the highest level of this district and lead this district," board member Jeff Pegler said.

Adams watched the special meeting from her district office. She said she was pleased with the board's vote.

"You don't know what to expect," Adams said. "I felt Mr. (E. Wayne) Gent (the other finalist) was a wonderful candidate. It was just wait and see."

Adams said one advantage to already being in the district is that she can work with La Cava to ensure a smooth transition.

Board member Karen Disney-Brombach and Chairman Matt McCain initially cast dissenting votes, saying they preferred Gent, area superintendent for Palm Beach County Schools. Seconds later, the board took a second, unanimous vote to begin negotiations with Adams.

Board members said they were impressed with Adams' experiences and answers.

"We need someone who knows the district. I think she brings that to the table," said board member Claudia Jimenez. "We've always looked from without. Maybe it's time to think outside the box and look from within."

Disney-Brombach and McCain said they came to the meeting prepared to vote for Gent. McCain said Gent personified what he envisioned as the new face of the district.

Earlier in the day, the board held second interviews with Gent and Adams.

At Adams' interview, board members focused on her answers regarding charter schools as well as trying to clarify what new ideas Adams would implement if she were superintendent.

Adams said she is not currently participating in the Deferred Retirement Option Program, which allows educators to plan for retirement for up to five years.

"I'm at the end of my career. I think that's a wonderful place to be right now," Adams said. "I'm bolder (now) because I'm going to do what's best for kids. I'm not here to impress anybody because I'm thinking of going to another level."

Gent described his area of expertise as being able to communicate with others. He said he wouldn't have any problems moving from a large district such as Palm Beach County to the smaller Indian River County. He said he enjoys talking with people and having a smaller district would allow him to interact more with schools, principals and the community.

Adams said her area of expertise is curriculum and instruction and understanding what students need to know to succeed.

"I am an expert in knowing that students need to be prepared for their future and not mine," Adams said.

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