Community leaders weigh in on future Duval superintendent

Nikolai Vitti says he's prepared to become leader of school district

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Reviews of the future Duval County superintendent are slowly rolling in.

Community leaders are voicing their opinions of Nikolai Vitti, the man the School Board selected Tuesday to take the top spot for the school district.

Vitti, described by board members as energetic, believes he's prepared to be the next superintendent.

"I've been at the state level in Florida, I've been a principal at the district level, so I know the challenges that teachers face, that principals face, and I've been able to navigate through those challenges and do what's best for students," Vitti said.

The 35-year-old father of four is in the process of negotiating a contract with the district.

Groups that promote Duval County schools, such as the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, are hopeful Vitti is ready for the challenges ahead, including the budget, academic achievement and struggling schools.

"Our turnaround school situation is something that our community has been very concerned about," said Pam Paul, of JPEF. "He has big track record with turnaround, so I think that's a huge strength."

Community leaders are hopeful Vitti's vision can help take students from cradle to career to help shape the city of Jacksonville.

"We're talking about a tremendous and massive infrastructure," Ben Warner, CEO of Jacksonville Community Council Inc., said of the school district. "This is the second largest employer in the county, it is a billion-dollar business that he's stepping in to run. I think all of us in the community are anxious and hopeful that he can succeed."

Warner participated in the superintendent search process. He's also a father of eight who wants to make sure the new superintendent is ready to collaborate.

"The education of my children is critically important," Warner said. "I know that my child's future success is going to depend on the kind of strength and the baseline that we can build."

For now, it's wait and see until the date is set for Vitti's arrival.

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