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Duval Superintendent Wants Charter Schools Director; Board To Vote Monday

Lindsey Kilbride

Duval County Public Schools interim Superintendent Patricia Willis is recommending the district create a charter school director position, one of more than 20 administration changes.

The school board will vote on the new positions and promotions Monday evening. Administrative promotions happen every summer.

Charter schools are public, but are privately run. The district has 35 of them. The director would manage the schools’ application and monitoring process. A staff analysis of the proposed position finds it necessary because the number of charters has grown over the past four years.

A new state lawmay also increase the number of charters by giving traditional schools less time to improve before mandatory closure and financially incentivizing charters to open in those areas. The law also standardizes charter school applications, giving districts less room to negotiate conditions with charter companies.

Willis is also asking the board to create a director of professional development position, to serve under the department’s executive director. Teacher and principal training was one of her priority areas coming into the job. She’s budgeted $675,000 for an expanded Professional Development department next year.

Some of Willis’s proposed promotions include Sandalwood Principal Vicki Schultz to chief of schools and James Weldon Johnson Middle School Principal Sharonda Peek to head up the district's school choice office.

The recommendations also include 10 new principal appointmentsproposed by Willis’s predecessor, Nikolai Vitti, at schools including Mandarin Oaks Elementary and Atlantic Coast High.

A DCPS spokesman said Willis didn’t want to comment on her recommendations until after Monday’s board meeting.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.