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Monday Conversation: Sandy Balfour

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Citrus County's newest school board member talks about joining the board

By Eryn Worthington

Eryn Worthington

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Staff writer

Editor's note: To listen to audio of the complete interview with School Board Member Sandy Balfour, scroll down to the bottom of the story and start the audio player.

The paper work is in the mail and Sandy Balfour – the newly appointed Citrus County School Board member – is preparing for her next education endeavor.

On July 28, Gov. Scott Rick announced his appointment of Balfour to the school board, which filled a vacancy created by the resignation of Susan Hale.

Balfour is a teacher at the Academy of Environmental Science and has taught in Citrus County elementary, middle and high schools, plus Withlacoochee Technical Institute. She also spent one year as assistant principal at Crystal River High School.

Balfour is a member of the College of Central Florida’s Board of Trustees.

She previously served with the Association of Community College Trustees, Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, Florida Association of School Administrators, Florida Humanities Council, and the Florida Marine Science Association. Balfour received her bachelor’s degree from St. Leo University and her master’s degree from the University of South Florida.

Balfour is appointed for a term ending Nov. 11, 2014. 

Recently, she sat down with the Chronicle for an interview. Here is what she had to say:

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CHRONICLE: What is the hiring process like for a candidate for hire with the Citrus County School District?

BALFOUR: The vetting process is completely thorough. I applied back in January when the opening became publicized. I ended up in May having a police officer walk through my classroom. She watched me interact with my students, met with my administrator and then talked with me for a while. What she was conducting was a work-place investigation. After that she conducted a character investigation. I ended up going to Tallahassee and had a one-on-one interview with Gov. Rick Scott. I was surprised he would take the time to get down to that level of a visit. He was very on point with his questions but he was personable.

CHRONICLE: What type of questions did he ask you?

BALFOUR: One of them – which indicated that he wants independent thinkers on our board – was, “Will you have any problem being the only no vote.” My response was “if it is the right vote, I have no problem at all with that.” He said, “That’s what I want is independent thinkers.” So, I know that is what he is looking for in his appointments. He wants to make sure when his name is attached to an appointment that he has a voice.

CHRONICLE: Are you nervous about the appointment? What aspects are you nervous about?

BALFOUR: Yes. You know when you step into a new job there is always some ambivalence. No matter, how well prepared you are there is always going to be something that will come out of the woodwork and I just want to be prepared. I understand that no one can have a skill mastery of any job when they first stop. But the stakes are high. I want to fulfill the commitment and I want to do a good job.

CHRONICLE: There are already four board members. What are you going to bring to the table that is different from what they bring?

BALFOUR: I think it is important to have diversity in any board. No matter what the board is responsible for. You have to have voices from different perspectives so that we can give a broader base and a deeper understanding. For me personally, I am going to bring to the table a real good understanding of what is going on on the front lines. I understand that pressure that teachers, administrators, students and parents are feeling. It is just so important to have a diverse board.

CHRONICLE: What did you learn from your running for superintendent that you are going to utilize for your future?

BALFOUR: What have I learned from running for superintendent? That is an interesting question. What have I learned from running for superintendent? I have learned to respect people who will put their name in a hat for a political position. I’m not cut from a cloud that thinks in a political format. I’m focused in on the job. I really have grown to respect people that will do that – put their families out there. I knew I was stepping into a public arena when I put my name out there running. But how deep it affected my family was eye opening. That was the biggest thing I took away – a deeper respect for people that run for office. Thank goodness people will do it. I wish we could encourage more people to get out there and be active and involved.

CHRONICLE: When you take the school hat off, who is Sandy Balfour?

BALFOUR: Mom. That’s what really led me into education. I was just being a mom recognizing that family is so valuable. The days that those kids are around are so short. I realized how my own kids would struggle at some points and it made me curious about what happens in education. That is what prompted me to understand how all of the pieces fit together between the vocational program and the public charter schools. This is going to give me another opportunity to see an additional piece fit. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity.

Contact Chronicle reporter Eryn Worthington at 352-563-5660, ext. 1334, or eworthington@chronicleonline.com.

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balfour.mp313.41 MB