By April Tisher
The 2017–2018 Alachua County Public School year kicks off for students returning to the classroom on August 14 under some significant leadership changes. Replacing the yearlong interim superintendent of schools, Sandra Hollinger, will be the new superintendent of schools, Karen Clarke. Clarke was previously the deputy superintendent, and was named the new superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools in May of this year. While she is new to the position, she is not a new face in the schools. Clarke has been serving the district for over 25 years as a teacher, dean, assistant principal, principal, director of secondary curriculum and assistant superintendent of curriculum prior to her most recent appointment. “I am honored to serve as superintendent of this great school district,” said Clarke. “It is truly a privilege to be able to give back to a community and school system that positively impacted my own life.”
Taking over the deputy superintendent role vacated by Clarke will be Donna Jones. Jones has 34 years of experience with the school system here, beginning with teaching at Eastside High and working through the system as a dean, assistant principal, principal and at the district level since 2013.
Filling Jones’ position as the executive director of curriculum and school improvement will be Jennie Wise. Wise was an assistant principal at Westwood Middle School and principal at Kanapaha Middle School for 15 years. She most recently served in the role of executive director of school supervision.
In addition to these personnel changes, parents will be happy to know that the volunteer application process will be done all online this year, in hopes to streamline the Raptor process. Also, the Infinite Campus grade system (and accompanying parent app) is being replaced by a new system called Skyward. Skyward is already used by more than 25 school districts in the state.
Public elementary schools in the county usually hold their meet the teacher times on the Friday before school begins (August 11) with middle and high schools having theirs on the Thursday prior (August 10). Check Sbac.edu for more details on those dates as well as open house events that will occur within the first month of school. From there you can also access your child’s specific school’s website with information on school supplies, lunch accounts and more.
New principals this coming fall
Terwilliger Elementary – Ashlea Zeller. She served as assistant principal for the past year at Terwilliger Elementary and at Lake Forest Elementary prior to that.
Alachua Elementary – Heather Harbour. She was the assistant principal at High Springs Community School for the past four years.
Littlewood Elementary – Justin Russell. He comes from 10 years at Kanapaha Middle School as a teacher, dean and assistant principal.
Duval Early Childhood Academy – Catherine Barnes. She previously served as an assistant principal and principal in the Duval County Public Schools, as the associate director of the Pathways Academy of Florida State College in Jacksonville, and as executive director of school supervision.
Chiles Elementary – Cory Tomlinson. He comes from five years as principal at Archer Elementary School.
Archer Elementary – Stella Arduser. She served as assistant principal for the past two years at Santa Fe High School and at P.K. Yonge before that.
*Updated information as of print time.