Duval County faces competition, hefty price tag as superintendent search heats up

Duval County School Board superintendent search could take many more months

News 4 Jax | By Anne Maxwell & Aaron Farrar | June 14, 2023

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The search is on for a new Duval County Public Schools superintendent, but hiring one will be pricey.

A consultant told the school board at a Wednesday meeting that superintendent salaries are rising because of the climate of education in Florida and the instability of the job.

The school board discussed the next steps in their search at Wednesday’s workshop, and they are considering taking action as soon as next week.

Based on the discussions, it sounds like the board has an appetite for hiring a firm to help guide them through this process. They could vote possibly by Tuesday on how they’d go about finding an outside recruiting and consulting group.

Andrea Messina with the nonprofit Florida Association of School Boards said hiring a superintendent is the single most important decision a school board will make.

“A superintendent search should unite a board and unite a community,” Messina said.

She gave a presentation to the board at a workshop Wednesday about planning the search and urged board members to be realistic, saying there’s no such thing as a superman or superwoman who can swoop in an fix all a district’s problems.

Messina also laid out the hard realities of hiring superintendents right now, noting just five out of 29 appointed superintendents in Florida have been in their positions since 2020.

As of Wednesday morning, there are expected to be six vacant superintendent positions this year, so Duval County will be facing competition for candidates.

Messina said the board should brace itself to shell out a hefty salary to attract the district’s next leader.

“There are some challenges with applicants from out of state who don’t have a full grasp of what’s going on in Florida. That doesn’t mean they’re insurmountable challenges,” Messina said. “It just means we’re not seeing the numbers from out of state in the last three months that we saw a year ago or two years ago.”

But she said that could change, and Duval County has advantages as a big district in a desirable area to live.

She also recommended that the board hire a recruiting and consulting firm for the search because an internal process would mean strain on internal staff that doesn’t have experience in executive searches. They said it could also get awkward with internal candidates.

The cost of consultants? An estimated $30,000 to $75,000. There will also be costs for travel, receptions, interviews, and background checks as well as advertising.

The process to hire Dr. Diana Greene, which was five years ago, went on for more than seven months.

This search is expected to take up to six months even with help from the Florida School Boards Association. In the meantime, longtime district employee Dr. Dana Kriznar is serving as acting superintendent.

Duval County Public Schools has established a page on the website dedicated to the superintendent search.

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