Teachers, students and everyone connected to Broward County Public Schools has a new leader.
“My priority, number one, is to make sure we are ready to go day one of school opening,” said Dr. Vickie Cartwright, who will become the district’s interim superintendent.
In a 5-4 split decision vote, the school board chose Cartwright to be the temporary boss, to serve in the time between Robert Runcie’s departure and the hiring of a permanent superintendent.
“You will find an individual that is student-guided, that understands that you must work in partnership with others to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all students,” Cartwright said during her job interview, as she faced questions from board members in a public meeting.
She already has the support of the Broward Teacher’s Union, which pledged to work with her and touted her pro-union stance.
“I loved that she said proactive rather than reactive because I do feel like our district in many places is more reactive than proactive,” said board member Debbi Hixon in praising Cartwright.
On the opposite side, board member Laurie Rich-Levinson pointed out that Cartwright’s latest job, as superintendent of schools in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is not adequate preparation to lead Broward County Public Schools.
“She was dealing with a budget that was under $300 million, we have a budget close to $5 billion,” RIch-Levinson said.
Cartwright also spent 17 years in Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, where she rose to deputy superintendent. The board picked her over Dr. Robert Schiller, who was once the state superintendent of Illinois and deputy superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Board chair Dr. Rosalind Osgood voted for Schiller but says the split vote is not evidence of deep divisions on the Board.
“Because we vote differently it does not mean that we’re not committed to unifying and moving the district forward once that vote takes place, and I think you saw that today. I personally would like to have considered Dr. Cartwright for the permanent position and that was why I was not for her in the interim,” Osgood said.
That’s because the board already stipulated that whoever gets the interim job will not be eligible for the permanent superintendent position.
Cartwright is expected to serve anywhere from six months to a year as the board searches for a permanent candidate. She will begin negotiations next week to establish a starting date for her new job.