2 finalists remain for Collier County School Board Superintendent position

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

The Collier County School Board is moving closer to picking the new superintendent. After reviewing several candidates for the position, they’re down to the last two, spending Wednesday interviewing them both.

The first finalist, Dr. Leslie Ricciardelli, is from Collier County and worked in the school district for 23 years, eventually leading her to become the interim superintendent. Ricciardelli believes her hometown advantage is important for parents, students, and their teachers.

Dr. Leslie Ricciardelli. CREDIT: WINK News

There’s a lot to be said, for knowing the people, for knowing the expectations of the families, the parents, and just really knowing other leaders in the community that if I need something, I can go to and either gain their support or get their advice, get their input on things. So, there are so many variables so that there’s so many different pieces to that. But yeah, I think it’s always a plus to know where you are and to know what the need is and what the expectations are,” Dr. Ricciardelli said.

Charles Van Zant Jr., the second finalist from Clay County, has plenty of experience too as both a superintendent and school board member. Zant Jr. is making his case for the position by selling himself on traditional values.

Charles Van Zant Jr. CREDIT: WINK News

“They should know that our founders pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, so we could live free. And based on that, once they understand that incredible price that was paid, and how much responsibility it takes to live as a citizen, how much is required on each of us. They can learn everything they need to learn reading, writing, arithmetic, we can make them rock stars, they can go to Harvard and be law schools, or they can be good American citizen plumbers and electricians, we can do it all,” Zant Jr. said.

More than 50 members of the public shared their thoughts on who they believe should be the new superintendent. The Collier County School Board will meet again in a week and give a final vote.

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