Pasco County Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning has announced he will not seek reelection, when his current term ends in 2024.
Browning was elected as superintendent by defeating incumbent Heather Fiorentino in the primary election of 2012 and by defeating write-in candidate Kathy Lambert in the general election.
Before running for superintendent of Pasco Schools, Browning served as Florida’s Secretary of State under governors Rick Scott and Charlie Crist.
Before that, he was Pasco County’s Supervisor of Elections for 26 years.
The schools superintendent announced his decision to not seek a fourth term in a June 2 YouTube video.
Browning said a variety of factors played a role in his decision, including many personal reasons.
“My wife, Kathy, is contemplating retirement and we have grandchildren who live out of state. “We want to be free to visit them more a lot more than we do.
“Some of the reasons are professional. I believe we are nearing the point where we will accomplish many of the goals I set out when I was first elected.
“Another reason? Well, it’s kind of a cliché, but you just know when it’s time.
“I am now in the middle of my third term as superintendent. When I complete my term at the end of 2024, I will have served for 12 years.
“The tenure of superintendents these days is around five to six years. I can understand why so many of my colleagues move on, after five years or so.
“This job has been challenging and it has been gratifying. I have benefited from a supportive community and a great staff. And, without both, I never would have made it this far,” he said.
“I’m extremely proud of so many things we’ve accomplished. We’ve expanded school choice, with innovative programs.
“We have done an amazing job managing growth.
“We weathered the pandemic better than most.
“And, all along, we kept the finances in order.
“But this is not a time to look backwards.
“I am determined to spend the rest of my term looking forward.
“We have so much more to get done, and I hope my announcement today will instill an even greater sense of urgency.
“I definitely feel that sense of urgency.
“We have work to do and I intend to finish strong,” he said.
When Browning came into office, he said he wanted to create a school system with more choices for parents and students.
During his tenure, the district has expanded educational options for students, by adding more magnet schools and more magnet programs. It also has increased participation rates in rigorous courses.
Under Browning, in concert with the elected school board, the district also has expanded opportunities for students wishing to pursue technical career options.
Some highlights during Browning’s administration include the opening of Starkey Ranch K-8 in Odessa. This was the first district school specifically designed to serve kindergartner through eighth-graders.
Through a collaborative partnership involving the school board, Pasco County and the developer of the Starkey Ranch community, the school was deigned to include a library, open to the public, as well as to students; a theater, which can be used for school and community performances; and, a district park, which provides facilities for both public and student use.
The district also partnered with Pasco-Hernando State College on a project to locate the state college’s Instructional Performing Arts Center (IPAC) on a campus shared by Cypress Creek High School and Cypress Creek Middle School, also in Wesley Chapel.
Students in the school system can take advantage of IPAC’s programs and facilities. There’s a direct tie-in to the programming offered by the school district, too. Cypress Creek Middle has a black box theater.
In the coming school year, the school district intends to open Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation, also in the Wesley Chapel area. That school will feature a broad range of technical training programs, along with academic offerings.
The district also has begun construction on a 6-12 STEAM magnet (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) school.
The school is being built on a site in the heart of Moffitt Cancer Center’s planned Pasco County campus.
When fully developed the cancer research hub is expected to attract life science companies and researchers from around the world to pursue breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer.
While the district has made strides, it also has faced increasing criticism from speakers during its public school board meetings. Issues sparking controversy have included mask mandates on school campuses, money spent on professional training, textbook selection and the timing of a referendum intended to generate funding for raises for non-administrative district personnel.
On another front, soon after Browning announced his departure in 2024, former State Sen. John Legg pre-filed with the Pasco Supervisor of Elections, declaring his intention to seek the post.
Legg has served in the state’s Senate and in its House of Representatives, and is the co-founder and chief financial officer of Day Spring Academy.
The charter school, which serves pre-school through 12th grade, has five campuses.
Published June 15, 2022