Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; New School Leader Must Build on Success

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; New School Leader Must Build on Success

Article excerpt

Byline: Jacksonville civic leaders

With the news last week that Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti has been offered the superintendency in his hometown of Detroit, the Duval County School Board is faced with a significant challenge of finding a replacement, a challenge that will define their tenure and the future of education in our city for years to come.

The progress that has been made under Vitti's leadership is undeniable.

The high school graduation rate has vaulted up to 78.8 percent, and Duval County now has the lowest black-white achievement gap of any large district in Florida.

The district has prioritized the highest-needs students and schools.

Services were expanded for overage students.

Access to mental health counseling was broadened.

And the number of arts and music classes available to the district's more than 125,000 students has been expanded.

The decisions the board makes over the coming weeks and months will determine if our community and its schools continue on this upward trajectory.

That is why we have come together to encourage the school board to:

MOVE QUICKLY, DELIBERATELY

The biggest risk for Duval County Public Schools is for the process to drag out and for the district to lose its current momentum or even begin to slide backwards. A close second is losing key staff to other districts over the short term. The board must move with a sense of urgency and intentionality.

WORK WITH VITTI ON TRANSITION

Ensure Vitti stays in place through the end of the school year. Having the superintendent in place until the end of the school year will avoid destabilizing schools during testing and give time for Vitti and the person appointed as interim superintendent to plan a smooth transition.

SELECT A BUILDER

Identify a candidate who commits to building on the strong foundation built over the past five years. …

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