Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

[3] Zenke Winning with Parents School Chief's Accomplishments Lauded

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

[3] Zenke Winning with Parents School Chief's Accomplishments Lauded

Article excerpt

While some business and political leaders have criticized the

performance of Duval County School Superintendent Larry Zenke,

he is receiving kudos from another quarter:

Parents.

"I think parents wholeheartedly support Zenke," said Marlene

White, chairwoman of Sabal Palm Elementary School's PTA. "My

personal opinion is that he is doing a very good job with what

he has going against him. He is very, very supportive of parents

and he has an open-door policy . . . willing to help whenever we

have problems."

Zenke, superintendent since 1989, has come under fire lately

for what community leaders call a lack of leadership. At the

forefront of the criticism were comments made by Tom Petway at a

Downtown Rotary Club meeting.

Petway, part owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and chairman of

the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission, said Zenke,

57, should be ousted from his $140,000-a-year position.

But with 2 1/2 years left in Zenke's contract, many parents say

that would be unfair.

Some say they support him. Others concede they don't know

enough about Zenke's job to hold him accountable for problems in

schools.

Zenke acknowledged this week that parents' views of his

performance are "critically important."

"How parents feel, not just about school leaders, but about how

the schools are educating their students, has an impact on me,"

he said. "Poll after poll nationwide shows that those most

intimately involved are much more positive about their school

leaders. If the parental level of support for schools and my

performance is low, I have to be concerned."

Parents noted that he has enjoyed his share of success:

In recent months, Zenke promoted the school system's academic

achievement plan, which aims to improve student achievement over

the next five years.

He was instrumental in reaching the 1990 desegregation

agreement with the Jacksonville chapter of the National

Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

He has seen some schools reach racial balance goals through

magnet programs. …

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