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Bauer, Almond for the Seminole County School Board

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Resume, clarity of vision, and leadership earn Bauer & Almond our nod for re-election.


by Jacob Engels


Ask anybody about what makes Seminole County such a desirable place to live and it won't take long until you hear the word "schools."  The leadership of the school system in Seminole County is the five member school board and Superintendent Walt Griffin, who is hired (and potentially fired) by the school board.  All the principals, teachers and staff work for the Superintendent, but the Superintendent works for the school board, so if you care about schools and the quality of education in Seminole County, you should care about the school board.


Three school board seats were up for election in Seminole County this year. District 5, held by the capable and talented Tina Calderone, has already been decided because nobody filed to run against Ms. Calderone.  


District 1


District 1 is currently open because Governor Rick Scott never appointed anyone to fill the seat currently previously filled by Diane Bauer, who passed away in October 2013.


Three candidates have qualified to run for the seat, and it appears that they all have talents worthy of the school board.  One in particular, Jeff Bauer, stands out for his record of service in educational leadership and knowledge of the issues facing the school system.


Jeff Bauer is the son of the popular former board member, and his record is an impressive one.  He graduated from elementary, middle and high school here in Seminole County (Lake Howell c/o 1987) before getting his AA from Seminole Community College and then receiving his bachelors degree from Stetson University.  


Bauer's leadership has continued in the county. He is the chairman of the Seminole County Early Learning Coalition, the group tasked with managing implementation of the constitutionally guaranteed mandatory Pre-K program. He is also a trustee of Seminole State College, where, as an alum, he has done an admirable job of balancing the needs of students and faculty. Mr. Bauer was elected countywide in 2006 to the Seminole County Soil and Water Conservation District, where he served for four years before not seeking reelection. He is a member of the Florida Early Learning Council and the Foundation for Seminole State College.


While all three candidates are registered Republicans, Mr. Bauer's service there far surpasses the others as well. He is a former president of the Seminole County Young Republicans and is the current Vice-Chairman of the Seminole County Republican Party.


If straw polls are an indicator, Bauer has a clear advantage by sweeping the hob nob season. If endorsements are the key indicator, Bauer has a massive edge in that category as well.


He has a clearly articulated vision, and has provided links on his website to his extensive comments on his view of education. He doesn't seem to just want to be someone, he wants to do something. rich His lifetime of participation in and leadership around the education system in Seminole County is evident, and his desire to continue the legacy established by his mother is an honorable one. One well known observer of the school system called Bauer "... one of the great future leaders of Seminole County."


As for his opponents, there are certain strengths and weaknesses to each.


Rich Sloane is a retired UCF administrator and military officer. Our primary concern with Mr. Sloane is that he appears to be significantly more interested in being somebody than doing something. The clearest example of that comes from his campaign website, which is long on biographical information, family pictures and resume line items but breathtakingly short on ideas. Mr. Sloane, notably, is the only candidate I can remember EVER not having a page or link on his website to issues, nor having a single reference anywhere on that website to his views on any subjects facing the schools. This should be startling to any voter.


Mr. Sloane's decision to offer no opinions or stances makes it impossible to support him. A voter that votes for a candidate who makes no effort to, and deliberately avoids, articulating a single vision or opinion for the schools should not be at all surprised when the candidate gets elected and does crazy or unpopular things. There is just no way such an oversight would be accidental.


Is Mr. Sloane for Common Core or against it? Does he favor merit based pay based on standardized testing or oppose it? Do teachers get paid too much or not enough? Does he support cluster zoning or a return to neighborhood schools?  


I don't know, and neither do you, and you are a fool if you vote for somebody who wants you to make a decision with so little information. The Seminole County Post believes this approach to be incredibly insulting to the voters of Seminole County.


Frank Curcio is running a union-backed, pro-teacher, anti-standardized testing and common core campaign. He is to be admired for saying what he truly believes, and not hiding his true intentions in such a conservative county. Mr. Curcio touts experience on a school board in New Jersey, but does not have Mr. Bauer's record of service and volunteerism with education in Seminole County and Central Florida.


His campaign is a curious one, touting the support of a Beef O'Brady's in Winter Springs and Panera Bread and UPS store in Oviedo on his website, with letters of support from family members. A reasonable observer could wonder if Mr. Curcio's campaign is a serious one. We will give him the benefit of the doubt and say it is.


Mr. Sloane, if elected, would likely become the most liberal member of the school board on Day One. The Seminole County Post admires his courage in defiantly rejecting the trajectory that has made Seminole County Public Schools so great, but we are not comfortable that he has the professionalism, record of service or clear vision to adequately represent District 1.  


Mr. Bauer, we believe, would be more thoughtful and balanced in his approach, which would be of clear benefit to the students and faculty of Seminole County. We are also convinced, from having watched all three men at various events and having scrutinized their public statements and websites, that Mr. Bauer has the deepest understanding of the school system.


So, by resume, experience, clarity of vision and potential as a leader, the Seminole County Post enthusiastically endorses Jeff Bauer for the District 1 seat.


District 2


Seat 2 is held by Karen Almond. She faces opposition from Gracia Miller, a former educator and graduate of Oviedo High School. This was a tough decision because both applicants are qualified. Ms. Almond's record on the board, and Ms. Miller's professed desire to help students while concentrating her endorsements and contributions from the labor unions, proved to be the ultimate difference here.


We at the Seminole County Post are not of the opinion that teachers unions and labor unions are necessarily good or bad. They are, by their own admissions, a special interest. Their interest is in making sure their employees are compensated justly, which is something the Seminole Post thinks is a good and important contribution to society. However, any casual observer knows that the needs of the teacher and staff unions do not always align with the needs of the students. School board members will be the ultimate mediator in this occasional struggle. If Ms. Miller was more open about this, it would have made a difference of our opinion of her and her campaign.


Ms. Miller's website makes no mention of added compensation for teachers, but says every child deserves a voice. Her platform, listed on her website, differentiates between the two candidates. It would appear, based on this chart, that she is closely aligned with the unions' views on these matters.


Seminole Post believes authenticity and clarity of vision matters, and Ms. Miller appears to be running a stealth union campaign in traditionally Republican Seminole County and we can't blame her for that. What we can say, however, is that authenticity, truthfulness and clarity of vision do matter in elections. A candidate that says one thing and plainly intends to do another is troubling for a lot of reasons, and it was too much for us to overcome in making this decision.


Almond has provided good leadership and guidance, and has the respect of her peers on the board, as evidenced by their decision to elect her chair. Her stated goals and plans line closely up with her tenure and voting record, and that's a good thing for the students, faculty and employees of the school system that both candidates profess to support.


The Seminole County Post endorses Karen Almond for reelection to Seminole County School Board District 2.



Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at [email protected]





Have to disagree with the endorsement for Almond. She is an integral part of the cabal that made use of our own government employees time and taxpayer money to assure the passage of the 7% sales tax, then sits back quietly and lets staff take the heat.

fox.e.u3.4.75[email protected]