FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Vickie Cartwright explains her educational philosophy by saying: “I make all my decisions on one premise: Students first.”
Which is why the newly selected Broward County Public Schools superintendent says hiring senior staff is her top priority.
After being selected Wednesday as the first full-time female chief of the sixth-largest district in the country, the former interim superintendent is looking for the right people to fill three key jobs:
- Chief of security and safety
- Chief of facilities
- Chief academic officer
Those jobs are directly linked to the district’s biggest challenges.
On academics, they need to battle back from the COVID slide, the learning loss because of the pandemic.
“We’re seeing more students are behind one, two, three grade levels,” Cartwright said Thursday in an interview with Local 10 News.
As it approaches four years since the tragic killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, safety and security remain a top priority.
“Those are the two things that we have to pay attention to as a school district is making sure that we provide a safe and secure environment and providing that top-quality academic education,” Cartwright said.
When it comes to facilities, there is the $800 million bond program, which has been highly criticized for mismanagement.
Cartwright says she’s working with the Florida TaxWatch nonprofit and the bond oversight committee and says they should tap into federal dollars to free up money.
“By freeing that up it also will help us be able to make sure that we deliver on the promises that we’ve given to this community,” she said.
Cartwright, 51, earned respect from school board members as the interim leader when she went before the MSD Commission and when she stood up to Gov. Ron DeSantis and his education commissioner over the district’s mask policy.
“She responded,” School Board Member Rosalind Osgood said. “She represented the board’s stand, the board’s interest, and she moved forward.”
Lori Alhadeff, the only school board member to vote against Cartwright in Wednesday’s final tally, said she will work with her.
“She’s an excellent communicator,” Alhadeff said. “She helps to build relationships with people.”