Search for Hillsborough schools superintendent down to final 3

Hillsborough County has narrowed its search for a new superintendent of schools to three finalists: the superintendent of Clay County Schools, Addison Davis, the Superintendent of Longmont Schools in Colorado, Dr. Don Haddad, and the Regional Superintendent of Palm Beach County Schools, Dr. Peter Licata.

They were among more than 1,000 applicants from 48 states vying for a position that will pay around $300,000 a year. During a meet-and-greet Thursday, each candidate made their pitch for why they should be the county's choice.

Addison Davis (L), Dr. Don Haddad (C), and Dr. Peter Licata (R) are the final three candidates being considered for Hillsborough County's superintendent of schools.

Davis said he wants to make the system more equitable for all students.

“I think it’s about a mindset,” he told FOX 13. “The growth mindset. Every child can learn. We have to help them, every single day, to be successful and give them a sense of hope.”

Dr. Haddad also addressed the issue of giving every child the opportunity to achieve, which could mean spending more money on poorly-performing schools.

“The other thing I am big on is connecting to the business community,” he explained.

Haddad also pointed out his current district won a number of national awards for its STEM programs.

Failing students seemed to be a common denominator among the finalists.

“Right now, our children of color and those that have an accent on their tongue are not achieving like our white students or high-income students,” said Dr. Licata.

He says he is not afraid to make significant changes, if warranted.

District officials will interview the finalists one last time, next Tuesday, and are expected to announce their final choice that night.