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Public involvement urged in Duval superintendent search

The Duval School Board meets Wednesday, June 14, 2023, to discuss the search for a new superintendent.
Claire Heddles
Jacksonville Today
The Duval School Board meets Wednesday, June 14, 2023, to discuss the search for a new superintendent.

The Duval School Board has been advised to get the community heavily involved in a search for a new superintendent.

Andrea Messina of the Florida School Board Association spearheaded a discussion Wednesday about the search. The School Board may partner with the association to assist with the search.

Duval expects to spend months seeking a replacement for Superintendent Diana Greene, who retired and left the district June 3. Interim Superintendent Dana Kriznar is on a six-month contract while the district conducts its search.

Messina said 24 of the state’s 29 board-appointed superintendents are new since 2020, and at least five other Florida school districts are looking for superintendent. But, she told the board the district can still attract good candidates.

“You are a big district,” Messina said. “There's a lot of dynamic things in this area that other communities haven't had, and I think they play to your benefit.”

Before the search, Messina said, the board should consider consultants, recognize their strategic plan, take community input into account, determine how the old and new superintendents might overlap and understand the search timeline.

Community input was discussed extensively. Messina suggested online surveys and interview sessions that could be open to the public. She told the board to expect about 6,000 responses for community feedback.

“You're going to want to do some community input, so that you all know what your community is looking for,” Messina said. “It can take any number of forms. … It can be targeted; it can be online only; it can be face to face.”

As for interviews, Messina said the board should ask the same questions to all candidates and let the public compare how they respond. The interviews should be open to the public, allowing residents to meet candidates and ask them questions, she said.

Messina said that people from across the country might show interest in the position, and that the board might want to consider looking at non-educational candidates, such as those with backgrounds in other forms of leadership such as military service.

After the search, Messina said, the board should create conditions for the candidate to succeed, have clear expectations and protocols, set common goals and openly discuss evaluations.

The district has created a webpage for more information about the search. After search applications are in, they will be available to the public under public records laws.

Joshua Pantano is a summer intern at WJCT News. He was previously a staff writer for the Ithacan, Ithaca College’s student-run newspaper, and a newscaster and reporter for WICB and VIC Radio, Ithaca College’s student-run radio stations.
Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.