The person now officially in charge of the Collier County Public Schools district spoke exclusively to WINK News about her new job.
The Collier County School Board approved Dr. Leslie Ricciardelli’s contract late Tuesday night. The process took months and came with controversy, but Ricciardelli said she has been ready since she took over as interim superintendent in December.
“I just came to work… to support the schools and the students and the teachers and the administrators,” Ricciardelli said.
Riciardelli said she knows the schools, the community and its expectations. She feels she can take the district from good to great when it comes to education and is excited about the future.
But the process didn’t come easily, and Ricciardelli dealt with roadblocks over the last six months. Most recently, a lawsuit was filed to temporarily block Collier County Public Schools from entering into a contract with Ricciardelli. A judge denied the lawsuit on Monday.
The new superintendent told WINK she is just grateful for the opportunity.
“It’s beyond humbling, and it’s flattering, and it’s really a combination of 28 years of work, almost three decades of work in education,” Ricciardelli said. “I’m excited for the opportunity—excited to do this in my hometown.”
Ricciardelli said she will start working on a strategic plan with new priorities created by the school board for the next school year.
“I’m excited about starting a new school year,” Ricciardelli said. “In a few weeks we will be welcoming students back, lots of things to prepare for… support the teachers to the highest level of [our] ability and support the administrators.”
Ricciardelli’s contract as superintendent with Collier County Public Schools is for three years, and she will earn $305,000 annually.