GUEST POST: Arlington community tells school board what it wants in the next superintendent

Clayton Levin is the Community Relations Coordinator for Jacksonville University and a JPEF Public Ed Ambassador. He attended the community meeting and shares his reflections below.


Jacksonville citizens have a shared obligation to work toward a brighter future for our city. By contributing our voices to the superintendent search process, we demonstrate our commitment to making our city one where children can receive the knowledge and skills they need to become responsible, contributing citizens.

Duval County School Board hosted the first of four community meetings designed to assist the Board in selecting the next superintendent of DCPS this past Monday. About 40 community members, along with DCPS staff, gathered in the Terry Parker High School theatre to hear from the school board and share their opinions.

The key issues that the residents felt the superintendent should address are:

  • Restorative justice and conflict management techniques for students,
  • How to best balance the needs of ESC students with connecting to their school
    Addressing campus walkability and safety due to busy traffic patterns and
  • Ensuring that the Board gives equal treatment to a local Jacksonville resident applying for the superintendent position.

The meeting began with a rousing welcome from Terry Parker Principal, Megan Pardue. It was powerful to hear that this public school was able to raise the overall school grade from a “C” to a “B” in a single year. Principal Pardue embodies the type of leadership it takes to create such impactful change. I work closely with the district in my role as Community Relations Coordinator for Jacksonville University, and I greatly appreciated the apparent time and energy she pours into her school.

Following Principal Pardue’s welcome, we were greeted by Board Chairwoman Paula Wright. She gave us a broad overview of the superintendent search timeline and emphasized the diligence required to conduct the process. The Board is taking a cerebral approach in working with the community, local officials and a contracted search organization to ensure that Jacksonville finds a top-notch superintendent.

The timeline for selecting a new superintendent for Duval public schools is as follows:

  • From November to December 2017, the Board will work on the leadership profile of the next superintendent.
  • From December 2017 to February 2018, the search firm selection process will take place.
  • From March 2018 to August 2018, the Board will receive applications, perform initial screenings, go through the interview process and then select their next superintendent.

After discussing the timeline, Chairwoman Wright walked through the culture of DCPS as it relates to the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan. DCPS will focus on a culture of responsibility, knowledge, trust and compassion. Sonita Young presented the rest of the drafted Strategic Plan, focusing on how the school system will focus on achieving its vision of ensuring “every student is inspired and prepared for success in college or a career and life.”This vision will be achieved with the following goals:

  • intentional focus on student achievement;
  • develop and retain high performing team members;
  • sustain engagement of parents, caregivers and community;
  • and ensure effective, equitable, and efficient use of resources aligned to improve student outcomes.

After the full presentation of the Strategic Plan, public feedback began. The residents of the Arlington community brought forward excellent thoughts and questions for the Board. This first meeting set the tone for the next four consecutive meetings.

As a Public Education Ambassador for the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, we encourage you to attend these meetings and have your voice heard.

  • Nov. 8, 6 p.m. at Ed White High School.
  • Nov. 13, 6 p.m. at Atlantic Coast High School.
  • Nov. 16, 6 p.m. at William Raines High School.

Your feedback is crucial to this process. These are exciting times for the City of Jacksonville and we want each of you to be a part of securing the future for our students.