It is becoming pretty clear why Nikolai Vitti is no longer school superintendent.
As usual, he was touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread when he was chosen to be superintendent in 2012.
He initiated a new strategic plan focusing on “developing great educators and leaders; ensuring an equitable and efficient use of resources; engaging parents, caregivers, and the community; and developing the whole child.”
(Educationese translated: “We’re going to spend as much as we can.”)
After that, things went downhill. Although he was a hit with the teacher union’s boss here, others didn’t get good vibes. Vitti was dropped like a hot potato last year and fittingly went to Detroit, where he was raised.
To be fair Vitti had other supporters, including Board Member Scott Shine, who has been one of the public’s best friends when it comes to keeping tabs on the bureaucracy, especially on budget matters.
However, in Vitti’s last year, the local school district spent way over budget, according to media reports. An audit that documented the overspending said Vitti had a practice of spending money from the fund balance, which generally is intended to be used only for emergencies.
Just recently, the district’s money managers were talking about a $60 million shortfall looming. All that means, apparently, is that they want to spend $60 million more than they have next year.
The latest fiasco also occurred on Vitti’s watch.
Accountability – along with school choice one of the biggest leaps forward in Florida’s government schools during the past few decades — calls for grading schools and making changes in those that do not make the grade.
Jacksonville has a number of failing schools. Four of them eventually were forced to close. They were not shuttered, but converted to other uses.
R.L. Brown, S.P. Livingston, Hyde Grove and Oak Hill elementary schools were selected for closure or reassignment for 2016-2017, but the process was botched badly.
Brown Elementary became a gifted and academically talented magnet school. Oak Hill was turned into an autism lab school. The other two are now arts and technology early learning centers. But 900 children were overlooked, 197 student records were duplicated and 378 students were not reassigned to a school with a grade of “C” or higher, as required.
After being caught by the state Department of Education, the School Board took corrective action Tuesday. Parents will be notified and the overlooked children will be moved to better schools.
School officials blamed the fiasco on “human error.” No kidding.
“We need more vigilance and accountability from staff responsible for delivering these services,” Shine said.
Schools are being held accountable. It is time people running the schools were held accountable.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://eyeonjacksonville.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Lloyd-Brown.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.[/author_info] [/author]