Clay County superintendent of schools

Clay County District Schools logo
Clay County District Schools logo

There are three Republicans and a write-in candidate competing for the office vacated by Addison Davis, who left Clay County to become superintendent of schools in Hillsborough County.

Acting Superintendent David S. Broskie and former Superintendents Charlie Van Zant and Ann Wiggins are running in the Republican Primary in August.

There are no Democrats in the races, but because there is a qualified write-in the race, the primary remains closed to Republican voters with the winner advancing to the general election with no other names on the ballot.

Scroll down to read each candidate’s responses to News4Jax’s questionnaire, presented verbatim as submitted.


David S. Broskie

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 52

Candidate’s family: wife Sue, sons Ryan and David

Occupation: current Superintendent of Schools-Clay County

Education: M.S. Education, Administration and Supervision University of North Florida

Political experience: n/a

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

  1. The safe re-opening of schools for the 20-21 school year in these unprecedented times.
  2. Future growth in Clay County as a result of the First Coast Expressway.
  3. Budget concerns related to growth and COVID-19.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I believe I am the most qualified candidate. I have over 30 years experience as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal of 3 different schools (which were all "A" rated during my tenure), Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and current Superintendent of Schools. I am most knowledgeable of the current educational practices and processes. I also believe continuity of leadership will be necessary to lead Clay County District Schools during these unprecedented times.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

Bringing the community and stakeholders together to provide world class educational opportunities for our students.

Continuing to keep Clay County District Schools an "A" rated district!

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

I would continue to stand against racism in all forms and work to provide learning opportunities to address this issue.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

Planning for the safe return to school for the 20-21 school year and providing parents with educational options to meet their families' needs.

Campaign website: electdavidbroskie.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook

Charlie Van Zant

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 49

Candidate’s family: Stephanie, wife of 26 Years Two sons n Clay County Schools Luke 17, Wyatt 14

Occupation: Executive Director of Business Development Lieutenant Colonel / Pilot, FL Army National Guard

Education: MA – Regents University BA – University of Florida Certificate in CEO Leadership Development - Florida School Superintendents Certification Levels 1 & 2, FL Department of Education

Political experience: 4 years as Clay County School Superintendent, oversaw a 10% increase in graduation rates, highest 4-year growth in Clay County History. 14 Years as a Clay County School Board member with an “A” rating and High Performing School District designation

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

Health & Safety – Having a comprehensive COA (Course of Action) if someone contracts COVID-19 at one of our local schools.

Taxes - The interim Superintendent and current administration raised voters' taxes last just last year and plans to pass a 30-year tax hike in November of this year. I have always lead the school board with balanced budgets. Together we raised student achievement, not citizens taxes.

Lack of Experienced Leadership – Current administration is not willing or capable of looking at hard issues and having an open dialogue giving children and other stakeholders a voice in helping solve critical issues. Clay County Schools deserve a Superintendent with a back-bone who is willing to fight for what's right for children. This is reflected by a lack of relevant, market related job skills development in our high schools. Clay County School District has become over-focused on chasing test scores and not preparing non-college bound students for the workforce. During my previous term I worked closely with businesses and increased opportunities for all students. Our industry certification increased by 83% in 4 years and our business partnerships doubled. I am committed to revitalizing that effort.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I am the only candidate in the race who has been elected to office this century - in the modern era of accountability and never raised the voter's taxes.

I am the only candidate with experience and training in crisis leadership. Also the only previous Clay Superintendent that has managed an active shooter event in Clay County where we had multiple schools on lock down for over 5 hours.

Additionally, I am the only candidate with the following accomplishments as Clay's Superintendent from 2012 to 2016:

• Facilitated increase of 10% in High School Graduation Rates - largest gain of any Superintendent in Clay County History!

• Balanced the budget, after years of deficit spending.

• Increased industry certifications by 83% for graduating seniors.

• Moved Clay into top 12 school districts in Florida, 4 months after term.

• Created 39 STEM and Robotics programs.

As a senior military officer in the Florida Army National Guard, I have taken every Strategic and Organizational course leading up to Army War College to enhance my leadership skills. With this knowledge, I know my mission well, and understand how to keep students safe and secure while reaching our academic targets for success in a fiscally responsible manner. For clarity I have not yet attended Army War college.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

As the core foundation to my faith, I want to be remembered for serving all students and families. Clay County has always provided great opportunities to our college bound students, helped them garner scholarships and get into prestigious colleges and universities. I hope to improve opportunities for the other 50% of our students that graduate but do not enter college. We enjoyed great success with job skills training during my previous tenure as Superintendent.

I want to be remembered for not blindly following the politicians in Tallahassee, and the current administration in chasing standardized test scores and consuming teachers' and students' time with teaching them the answers to the test. The interim Superintendent, who is one of my opponents, has been part of this 'drill and test' method of education that does not produce leaders but under performing followers.

I want to be remembered for believing in teachers not having to be micro-managed and told how and what exactly to teach each day. I plan to break this cycle and give teachers broader autonomy in their classrooms. Our teachers are the CEO's of their classroom!

When it is all said and done, I also want to be remembered for being a champion for children who believed in:

Loyalty, Enthusiasm, Accountability, Duty, Equity, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage

Which are all parts of the foundation of the Army core values I learned over 30 years as a senior military officer.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

Our great nation is crying out for help to ensure all citizens are given equal opportunity. If elected I would make sure our schools reflect their population in Clay County. It is important our school children see people who look like them in a variety of educational roles as they serve as mentors for the next generation. This includes the classroom, administration and the district office.

I will continue the work I started as a school board member where I led conversations on racial justice. I was successful in helping re-write school board policy in the early 2000s.

I would ensure our Human Resources department followed equitable hiring practices for all regardless of race, gender, religion or creed. In doing so, I would also investigate why, after my departure from the Superintendent's office, the interim Superintendent (my opponent) in his role as Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources terminated many high-ranking minority educators.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

COVID-19 has forever changed education overall. Students not in school has without a doubt caused a global learning crisis. The resurgence of e-learning has picked up ten-fold. However, it is met with frustration, insufficient bandwidth, little preparation and fear. We do not know quite yet if learning online is even effective. Those are just the surface challenges we see as we are forced to embrace this new way of work.

Without a vaccine, our school district will continue to plan for the additional unseen challenges on a constant basis as we seek to educate our children.

Health Risks – Providing a safe learning environment for all students is paramount. In the current challenging COVID world we must have a comprehensive safety plan that meets CDC guidelines for our students and our staff, giving parents peace of mind.

Learning Challenges- For digital natives who have access to laptops and internet connectivity, online learning strategies could be beneficial. However, do we have a strategic plan to jump start the rest of the students and teachers with these same skill sets? We must seek new ways to keep students engaged with more blended learning opportunities while we provide quality e-learning and professional development for our staff, giving them resources for success.

Meals for Children – In many parts of our county, students look for school breakfast and lunch as essential meals they may not otherwise receive. We will have to find creative ways to ensure we are following COVID guidelines from the CDC when feeding our children.

Our overall challenge is therefore to reduce the negative impact COVID-19 has had on teaching and learning, and quickly build effective instructional practices with a since of urgency for improvement in academic success.

Campaign website: charlievanzant.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook.com | Instagram

Ann Wiggins

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: (no answer)

Candidate’s family: Married to my husband Eddie, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force. We have five children who are all successful members of our community. All of our children attended public schools.

Occupation: Lifelong educator; Former Superintendent of Schools

Education: Doctorate of Education; Master’s of Education

Political experience: Served eight years as Clay County’s first elected female Superintendent of Schools

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

There are several major issues that will be confronting the Clay County School District, both in the immediate future and over the next 5-10 years. Chief among them is the threat posed by the coronavirus. While this might seem like old news for much of the country, the challenges of dealing with covid-19 are still ahead in the world of education. School districts must be preparing now during the summer break to ensure our schools are safe for the return of our students and staff in August.

Other school districts in Florida have already developed plans and purchased PPE (including gloves and masks) but Clay County continues to lag behind. If I were Superintendent right now I would have already started making concrete plans for August. The problems presented by the virus will have an impact on the way we alter educational protocols. We will need adjustments for school hours, seating arrangements, busing, and cafeteria guidelines. I have two plans to be considered, but no matter what, I will gather parents, teachers, and administrators to discuss and review all plans and procedures.

With the expansion of the outer beltway, growth will be a major issue for Clay County. Current projections call for 5-7 new schools over the next ten years. The funding of these schools will present a major challenge for our community as we have limited funds for capital growth and the state has continually cut funding for local school districts. I am strongly supporting the proposed half-cent sales tax that will be on the ballot this November and plan to work throughout the community to help ensure its passage (I also supported the millage increase in 2018 to support the development of the School District Police Department). Clay County needs to look very closely at where and how we spend taxpayers' dollars. The Clay County School District is an important factor when it comes to growth, both residential and commercial. It was the Clay County School System that brought so many families to the area.

Another major issue our school district should have addressed years ago is the current crisis surrounding employee insurance. Our employees deserve to have quality insurance and should be able to provide a decent quality of life for themselves and their families. I would support the option of going self-insured or going out for bid to potentially realize a reduction in premiums. Additionally, the salaries of Clay County School District employees are close to the bottom of the state salary rankings and this must be changed. On a separate note, I did not approve of the almost $30,000 bonus given to the previous superintendent. I did address the School Board concerning that matter and think it is inappropriate to give such an exorbitant bonus when our teachers and support personnel need help with making their insurance payments.

Lastly, we must continue to assess our curriculum and ensure we are offering our students the best opportunities. I would support the expansion of pre-AICE and pre-IB programs into the junior high setting. I would also like to see our school district look at expanding our Career and Technical Education Programs. In addition to building the long overdue Fleming Island Junior High School, I would like to develop that property into a CTE- center where students could come from across the county to attend comprehensive academies that go beyond what is offered at the individual high schools. I would like to develop a transportation network to service these students from their local high schools to ensure equal access for all. Other proposals include offering a foreign language at the elementary school level as well as pairing elementary school teachers with the same group of students for the first three years of the child's education, which would provide continuity for young children during those early pivotal years.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

  1. My Experience: As a lifelong, veteran educator, I truly believe every child deserves a quality education. I served two terms as Clay County’s first elected female Superintendent and possess a Doctorate of Education. I have taught at every level, from Pre-K to Junior High, to college-level courses. I have taught overseas through the Air Force and right here in Clay County, where I also founded the reading lab at Lakeside Junior High School. I have dedicated my life to education and believe I am the most experienced candidate in this race.
  2. My Community Involvement: Clay County has been our home for many decades since my husband and I returned from our last overseas assignment with the Air Force. I am deeply involved in our community including our church, civic organizations, veterans associations, and many political clubs. Our five children and many grandchildren are all active, productive members of the community with many of them working in public-service professions. I am thankful that my family and so many of my colleagues are supporting my candidacy.
  3. My Leadership Ability: I have a proven track record of working collaboratively with others. As Superintendent, I always did, and always will make sure that all stakeholders are represented and given a voice at the table. My ability to lead and engage the community is a big part of why so many other individuals are supporting my campaign. Clay County is tired of the divisive, personal politics. It is time to return to a Superintendent who will put children first and not be indebted to lobbyists, charter schools, or political action committees. Serving as Superintendent is not a stepping stone or a career move for me; I am running purely because I believe I can make a difference for our children and our community.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

I am in a unique position in this election because I have already successfully served two-terms as Superintendent of Schools for Clay County. I am proud of my track record as the leader of the Clay County School District and my reputation as a champion of education.

As Superintendent I was recognized as an innovator in public education. I developed and opened the Bannerman Learning Center as an alternative education option in Green Cove Springs; I launched Clay County's first Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program; and I was one of the founders of the Clay County Education Foundation, which is still in operation today raising money to support our schools.

I was recognized for my pioneering work in education by President Bush, who declared Clay County his Eight Point of Light, and by the State of Florida when I was selected as Florida's School Superintendent of the Year for the state. If elected to serve once again, I look forward to continue to innovate in the classroom and provide students and parents with unique choices and learning opportunities. I have always been an avid supporter of our teachers and support professionals and will continue to do so.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

I am proud of my track record of working with all stakeholders and members of our community. As Clay County's Superintendent, I was twice recognized by the Clay County NAACP for helping to build healthy race relations throughout Clay County.

As Superintendent, I would always work to ensure all individuals feel safe and welcomed on our campuses and in our community. No student or staff should ever feel scared or threatened. I would always have a zero-tolerance policy for any racism, or any other discrimination, and would work to provide professional development and career advancement opportunities to all individuals.

I am humbled by the outpouring of support for my campaign. I have been endorsed by several leaders from Clay County's African American community and I am proud to have continually earned the support of our minority communities.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

Covid-19 presents a number of unique challenges to school districts across the nation. As Superintendent of Schools, you are tasked with ensuring the health and safety of our students and staff (which totals more than 40,000 and 5,000, respectively).

The number one question we must answer, as a community, is what will school look like beginning in August? Do we send students for a full, normal in-person schedule, or do we institute a split week schedule where students attend in-person for part of the week and utilize virtual learning for the other days? Most importantly, we must provide options for parents to chose what would be most effective and safest for their students.

When looking at in-person, live instruction, the most pressing issues are how we handle the transportation of students (school buses) and the large gathering areas during the school day (such as the cafeteria, gym, and library). We must provide our staff the tools they need to stay safe. The Clay County School District should be buying masks, shields, and hand sanitizer right now and not waiting to see what the situation is in August. We must be proactive and responsible.

No matter what, I will work collectively and include all stakeholders in the decision-making process. Parents and staff must be a part of the conversation!

Campaign website: AnnWiggins.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook

The winner of the August primary will advance to the general election because Tyler Groves qualified as a write-in for this race. Clay County records show Groves is a registered Republican and his presence in the race keeps the primary closed to only Republicans.