The Duval County School Board unanimously voted for Florida’s Manatee County Superintendent Diana Greene as its choice for superintendent late Friday afternoon.
Greene was one of three finalists board members interviewed this week.
Board member Ashley Smith Juarez was the only member to say her preferred candidate was someone else, North Carolina’s Wayne County superintendent Michael Dunsmore.
However, once all other board members said they preferred Greene, Smith Juarez voted in favor of her nomination.
“I know that we have selected an incredible next leader for our superintendent,” Smith Juarez said. “Dr. Greene’s credentials speak for herself. Her accomplishments over her career and also her commitment to education in Florida, her commitment to students and her commitment to reaching the goals in each of her chosen positions.”
Greene told the board during her interview that she’d have a minimal learning curve transitioning from her Florida district and several board members brought that up as they announced she was their pick.
“This candidate has knowledge of the current legislative state in Florida and has engaged actively in that process,” Vice Chair Lori Hershey said of Greene’s accomplishments.
Board members also said they were impressed voters in Manatee approved a half-penny sales tax extension and millage increase to build new schools and up teacher pay.
When asked if they’d like voters to approve a similar referendum in Duval, board members nodded yes, but said it will take time.
“One of the things that really struck me with Dr. Greene was she said that they had to establish trust first and I think that’s where we are,” board member Becki Couch said. “I think that our community expects that of us if they’re going to be asked to increase their taxes.”
During her interview, Greene said getting the district financially solvent was the first step to getting referendums approved.
Duval has more than double the number of students as Manatee, but Greene told board members effective strategies work no matter the district’s size.
Now the city’s Office of General Counsel will start the process of negotiating a contract with Greene. The board wants her to start by July 1.
Duval has been operating with an interim superintendent, Patricia Willis, since Nikolai Vitti left the position last May to lead Detroit schools.
All board members, with the exception of Scott Shine, attended all candidate interview sessions. Shine was present for Friday’s vote.
Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.