Hillsborough school board unanimously appoints Van Ayres as interim superintendent

abc Action News | By WFTS Digital Staff & Larissa Scott | June 20, 2023

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — During a special called board meeting, the Hillsborough County School Board unanimously voted to appoint Van Ayres as interim superintendent.

Ayres is currently the Chief of Strategic Planning and Partnerships and a former principal who came highly recommended by Davis. The board said Ayres will be under a 12-month contract which will allow them time to get public input and find a replacement for outgoing Superintendent Addison Davis without rushing the process.

Last week, Superintendent Addison Davis announced in a letter that he will resign in mid-July after more than three years.

Davis shared he’s leaving to go back to northeast Florida, where his family is.

“I think when you look at where we are fiscally and where we were two years ago compared to what’s happening, I think he left us in a very great position and a position that many people will want to step into those shoes,” said school board chair Nadia Combs.

She predicted they’ll have more than a dozen applicants for the job.

“We do have several options internally and externally. I think it’s not going to be an issue. And the wonderful thing about the superintendent leaving is that he’s leaving on great terms, so he’s going to work side by side,” said Combs.

In an interview after the vote, Davis said the board should consider Ayres to be his replacement. Ayres said he is interested in holding the job beyond the 12-month “interim” contract.

As for a permanent replacement, ABC Action News heard from a handful of parents on Tuesday about what they’re looking for in the next leader.

“Every educator is going to say we put kids first, but it really has to be somebody that this job, this job that they’re going to get hired for is their dream job,” said Angela Schroden. “They don’t want to do anything else. This is the thing they were called and destined to do.”

“I need a leader who’s strong enough to go against the grain, even when it’s an unpopular opinion,” said Ashley Foxworth. “I need a superintendent who’s well-connected to all constituents, and if they’re not connected, one that is willing to go and do the necessary measures as far as community meetings and just engaging into communities that they wouldn’t normally target.”

Following Tuesday’s special meeting and appointment of an interim superintendent, the school board will have a second hearing on school boundary changes.

This comes after months of back and forth with the community, sparking some heated debate. The school board is expected to give the final approval to the new boundaries Tuesday. The changes would be the first district-wide boundary change for Hillsborough County Public Schools.

The new plan will reduce the number of underutilized school buildings, save the district $13,488,217 in annual expenditures, reduce the annual transportation costs by $4,464,297, and impact 15,277 students.

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