Chris Sandy is the elementary school's new principal

Veteran educator Chris Sandy has been named the new principal at Reddick-Collier Elementary School. The decision came after the state Department of Education recommended removing second-year Principal Jolene Vining from her post.

Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier said she wanted to keep Vining at Reddick because there are signs that student test scores are improving under her leadership. However, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, who is a former teacher and principal in Marion County, recommended a change.

Maier hired Vining at Reddick-Collier for the 2016-17 school year because of her work with children at McIntosh Area School, one Marion’s four charter schools. Maier said Vining helped the charter school improve its grade.

“Even though we stressed that the data is trending upward, they recommended we make a change and that is what we are doing,” Maier said. “We will follow the commissioner’s recommendation.”

Reddick, which has about 400 students, is one of four elementary schools (along with Greenway, Belleview-Santos and Fessenden) currently under the first level of state intervention. That intervention is called “Turnaround: Phase 1” or “Turnaround 1” for short.

If these schools do not improve to a C when grades are released in summer 2019 after next spring’s Florida Standards Assessments testing, then the school will be placed on the more severe “Turnaround 2” status for the 2019-20 year.

Oakcrest Elementary School is currently a Turnaround 2 school. If its grade does not improve to a C in 2019, the district will hire an outside company to run the school’s curriculum. The School Board chose to hire an outside company for Evergreen Elementary School, which also is on “Turnaround 2” status.

Sandy, who first joined the district in 1982, has served as assistant principal or principal at Fort McCoy School, Dunnellon Middle, Oakcrest Elementary and Stanton-Weirsdale Elementary. She served as the district’s executive director of elementary education for several years before she retired in 2015.

Two years later, Maier brought Sandy out of retirement to serve at the district level, also working with elementary education.

Sandy earned a bachelor’s degree in English and communication arts and a master’s degree in reading instruction, both from Michigan State. She also earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Florida.

Vining moves to the district’s School Counseling and Assessment Department.

School Board member Bobby James attended his last board work session on Thursday. James did not run for re-election. His last board meeting is next Tuesday.

“Any time you can get Chris Sandy out there on the front line, it is a good day,” James said at the work session. “I know she will do a good job while she is up there.”

Joe Callahan can be reached at 352-867-4115 or at joe.callahan@starbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoeOcalaNews.