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Three superintendent finalists selected after school board, community interviews

This evening, the school board selected superintendent candidates Michael Dunsmore, Diana Greene, and Erick Pruitt to move forward as finalists. The decision was made after two days of interviews: each of the six semi-finalists were interviewed on May 11 by the school board in one-on-one meetings and by a community focus group on May 12.

During the focus group interviews, which were open to the public, most of the candidates prioritized engaging with the community, listening to education stakeholders and building a strong culture. Experience with budget deficits was also commonly discussed in light of the $62 million shortfall facing Duval County Public Schools.

Community group hears from semi-finalists

Dr. Michael Dunsmore, superintendent of Wayne County Public Schools, focused on his experience working with English Language Learners (ELL) and students in high-poverty areas. Dr. Dunsmore also discussed his interactions with the North Carolina legislature during efforts to educate legislators about education issues. He believes that surrounding himself with “the best and the brightest people” is important to a school district’s success.

Finances were a significant focus for Dr. Diana Greene, superintendent of Manatee County Schools, who discussed her leading role in passing a sales tax renewal that produced millions of dollars in education funding for the county. She prioritized improving low-performing schools and working with teachers while highlighting the similarities between Duval County and Manatee County schools.

Dr. Sito Narcisse, Chief of Schools for Metro Nashville Public Schools, emphasized his experience working in an urban school district and his familiarity with issues present in DCPS. Dr. Narcisse expressed enthusiasm for building a long-term plan that focuses on impact. He believes in partnering with other stakeholders when making decisions to build investment.

Dr. Erick Pruitt, Area Superintendent for Houston Independent School District, spoke at length about developing a strong financial plan for DCPS, informed by his current experience with a large budget deficit. He is committed to diversity and building morale in DCPS. Dr. Pruitt discussed the need to develop buy-in from staff and the community when crafting and implementing a mission for the school district.

As Chief Academic Officer for Hillsborough County Public Schools, Mr. Harrison Peters spoke about the challenges facing his current and past school districts, including low-performing schools, budget deficits and constraining legislation. He prioritized innovation and creative solutions to improve schools as well as focusing on morale among teachers and staff.

Board selects finalists 

In the voting process, Board Chairwoman Paula Wright, Vice Chair Lori Hershey, and members Becki Couch and Cheryl Grymes voted to remove Mr. Peters and Dr. Narcisse from consideration. Board members Warren Jones, Scott Shine and Ashley Smith Juarez voted to remove Dr. Pruitt and Dr. Dunsmore. Once the scores were revealed, the board voted 7-0 to continue forward with Dr. Dunsmore, Dr. Greene and Dr. Pruitt as finalists.

Interview schedule

May 16 - Dr. Michael Dunsmore

May 17 - Dr. Diana Greene

May 18 - Dr. Erick Pruitt

Each interview will be at 9 a.m. in the Cline Auditorium at DCPS, 1701 Prudential Drive. The interviews are open to the public and we encourage you to attend to learn more about Duval County’s next superintendent. 

The board will meet at 4 p.m. this Friday, May 18 in Cline Auditorium to select its choice for superintendent. This meeting is also open to the public. We look forward to seeing you there!

Our Commitment to You

At JPEF, we believe deeply that the public has to be part of important school district decisions like selecting a new superintendent. As the search progresses, we will continue to provide updates by e-mail, Twitter (@JaxPEF) and Facebook (www.Facebook.com/JaxPEF).

If you have any questions about the process, or other thoughts, please share them with us by replying to this message.