Firm that found last Duval County superintendent out of running this time

School Board members narrow list of search firms to 3 for interviews


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The search firm that brought former public schools superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti to Duval County will not help find his permanent replacement.

On Wednesday, the Duval County School Board, which notably clashed with Vitti during his tenure, narrowed the list of search firms it will consider for finding the next superintendent, and McPherson & Jacobson LLC, which found Vitti, didn't make the cut.

Using two points systems for experiences and qualifications and scope of services, the School Board members ranked the four firms that had submitted proposals.

The top three firms -- Hazard Young Attea Associates, Springsted & Waters and Ray and Associates Inc. -- will be interviewed starting at 9 a.m. Feb. 7, officials said.

When it comes to replacing Vitti, who left last year to head the Detroit school system, the school district has put together a profile based on what many Duval County stakeholders have said they want in a superintendent.

In a survey distributed to nearly 1,000 parents, educators and community members, it's clear that teachers matter to parents. Of those surveyed, 473 people said the new superintendent should not only know how to attract good teachers, but should also have the skills required to keep them in Duval County classrooms.

Many of those surveyed also said they wanted the district's new top leader to have previous classroom experience and be someone who is focused on student achievement, but who is also willing to increase school funding for operations and instruction. 

To make the grade, personal qualities mattered to parents as well. Those who took the survey said they want to see candidates who are not only problem solvers, but are trustworthy, approachable, and eager to promote a positive culture within the district. 

The selection of the search firm is scheduled to take place in February or March.

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