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St. Paul schools chief Valeria Silva is a top 4 finalist for similar job in Florida

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Valeria Silva, the superintendent of the St. Paul public schools, is one of four finalists for a similar position with the Palm Beach County school district in Florida.

A search committee narrowed the original list of 72 applicants down to 13 at a Wednesday morning meeting, and by the end of the session in the afternoon the number was cut to four, the school district announced on its website.

Silva and the other candidates will have formal interviews with the school board during a public meeting on April 16.

The Palm Beach County school district is the 11th largest in the nation, with 185 schools and an enrollment of more than 183,000 students, nearly five times higher than the 38,000 in St. Paul's district.

Silva's candidacy for the Florida job has raised a few eyebrows here, since it comes just a few weeks after the St. Paul school board approved a three-year contract extension for her, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. She informed the school board on April 2 that she was applying for the job.

"As a Latina leader, I believe Palm Beach County presents an exciting and multicultural opportunity in which to focus my educational and personal background," Silva wrote in her letter of application, adding that she believes the position would be an "excellent fit for my skills."

A spokeswoman for the St. Paul district told the Star Tribune Wednesday that neither Silva nor district officials would comment on Silva's status in the Palm Beach County search process.

Silva, 53, has been superintendent of the St. Paul School District since late 2009. Prior to her appointment she was a teacher and administrator in the district for 25 years.

The other three finalists for the position are Robert Avossa of Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, Desmond Blackburn of Broward County Schools in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Jesus Jara of Orange County Schools in Orlando, Fla.

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