Robert Avossa

A finalist for the Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent position reportedly has taken the job as superintendent of the Palm Beach County schools in Palm Beach, Florida, becoming the highest-paid schools chief in Florida.

Robert Avossa, 43, is superintendent of Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that he was the top choice of five of the seven Palm Springs board members and was also a finalist for the Montgomery County position.

“Florida feels like home to me,” Avossa told reporters at the Palm Beach Post. An Italian immigrant, Avossa grew up in Melbourne, Florida.

Avossa agreed to a base salary of $325,000, according to the Sun Sentinel newspaper, a figure less than his negotiated $350,000, but still making him the highest-paid superintendent in Florida. The move followed teachers’ complaints amid their own contract negotiations.

The MCPS is seeking to replace Superintendent Joshua Starr, who quit in February after the school board refused to extend his contract. Starr earned a base salary of $264,000.

MCPS spokesman Dana Tofig said he could not comment on whether Avossa was a finalist for the MCPS position, citing the district’s policy of keeping the negotiations confidential.

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“They believe it’s important that the process is confidential so they can attract the best pool of candidates,” he said.

MCPS board members hope to hire a new superintendent by July 1. Board members said they are seeking a candidate who can help close the achievement gap among minority students.

As Fulton County superintendent, Avossa has led a diverse district. Among its 96,500 students, 42 percent are African American.

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“We now have the highest graduation rate in the metro Atlanta area and the second highest SAT average in the state,” he said in a statement. Avossa could not be reached for comment.

The Sun Sentinel reports that he had just renewed his contract with Fulton County, which included a provision that he pay the district $25,000 to leave. He will leave the position in June.

Editor’s Note: The original headline on this story incorrectly stated that Robert Avossa had taken a job of the Palm Springs school system.

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