A Duval County School Board member is calling for the district to hold off on hiring a new superintendent until new members are elected this fall. That goes against the current timeline that would have the new superintendent in place before the next school year.
Interim superintendent Patricia Willis has been leading the district since May. As School Board Chair Paula Wright told our partner News4Jax Monday morning, the plan is to vote on a contract for the new leader before July. “Our process will lead us to name someone middle (of) May, name that person so we can make certain that the negotiations take place and the contract is done so they can start July 1,” Wright said.
Board members have said at previous meetings, that timeline is a good thing, and will allow the new superintendent to learn about the district and help shape the upcoming year. But board member Scott Shine said he wants to hit the brakes because three new members could be elected soon after.
“My position is to not install a new superintendent until after the election cycle for 2018 is complete,” Shine said in an email to other board members and Willis. “We have the potential to have three new board members identified within (six) weeks of our current prospect hire date. In my opinion, a short delay would make for better government.”
Shine potentially faces two opponents in his board seat re-election bid. In addition, Wright and board member Becki Couch are term-limited out. If any candidate running for one of those seats gets at least 50 percent of the vote plus one in the August primary, they’ll win their race. In races in which that doesn’t happen, the top two will be on the November ballot. Shine said that means the board’s decision on the new superintendent should wait until either August or November, depending on when the new members are chosen.
“We have a good superintendent in place right now,” Shine said. “I think the benefit would come from placing a superintendent who has a relationship with two to three new board members.”
The board is currently holding public meetings to hear what people want in a superintendent as well as working with a search firm. Shine said that work should continue.
“That said, that doesn’t mean that if we find an exceptional candidate, that I’m not open to that,” Shine said. “And I think we should continue to do the work that we’re doing because that needs to get done.”
The Jacksonville Civic Council emailed board members in December asking the school board to hold off on hiring a new leader until after the 2018 election.
The Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that was established in 2010. The organization’s goal, according to its website, is to work “transparently and with no agenda, for the good of our community.”
Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride