Broskie , Wiggins, Van Zant, all wrestle with plans to reopen schools during COVID-19

Superintendent candidates make their cases to Federated Republican Women’s group

By Bruce Hope bruce@opcfla.com
Posted 7/15/20

ORANGE PARK – With the race for Clay County District Schools Superintendent heating up, candidates Charlie Van Zant, Ann Wiggins and David Broskie all attended a luncheon last week hosted by the …

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Broskie , Wiggins, Van Zant, all wrestle with plans to reopen schools during COVID-19

Superintendent candidates make their cases to Federated Republican Women’s group

Posted

ORANGE PARK – With the race for Clay County District Schools Superintendent heating up, candidates Charlie Van Zant, Ann Wiggins and David Broskie all attended a luncheon last week hosted by the Clay County Federated Republican Women where they introduced themselves and answered questions.

Following the luncheon portion of the event, the candidates took turns addressing the audience. A variety of questions were posed, from opinions on tax hikes to the reopening of schools in the fall amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, to processes for meeting the needs of diverse learners. Following the series of questions, each was allotted two minutes to make closing comments.

All three candidates believe they are the best fit for Clay County.

“I’m the only candidate up here who has a doctorate in education,” said Wiggins. “I have 30 years of education experience. I have taught classes all the way from Pre-K up to college-level classes.”

“There is an actual certification to be a Florida school superintendent. I hold it; there are two levels, and I hold both,” said Van Zant. “I’m the only one in the room who’s served as a superintendent in this millennium, In this time of modern assessment.”

“My experience has covered every aspect of every job in the school system,” said Broskie. “Having all of those positions give you the technical knowledge and the current knowledge of conditions in which to provide the best possible education for our students.”

Broskie was appointed as the new superintendent last February, shortly after Addison Davis was selected as the new superintendent of Hillsborough County schools near Tampa.

The plan for reopening of schools while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the most significant issues.

While Wiggins didn’t have a direct answer for whether she thinks the schools should reopen next month, she is a proponent of better communication between the community and the staff.

“I believe we should have surveys to find out what the parents expect from us, what the teachers expect from us,” she said. “This is going to have an economic impact on the families. We have families that must go to work, and we cannot expect them to spend time sitting at home teaching their children.”

Van Zant also didn’t have an answer but said that his experience as a field-grade military officer had shown him the value of planning while maintaining the ability to remain agile and flexible in the execution of the plan.

“This has been my life for the last couple of months,” Broskie said. “Teams have worked hard both at the school level and the district level to provide the best possible scenario for families and students to come back to school starting Aug. 11.”

After generally well-received responses to the topics posed by members of the audience, the competitors for superintendent offered closing remarks.

“I believe my qualifications are the qualifications necessary to be the superintendent in this day and age,” said Broskie. “There is no doubt that some students and their parents will choose not to come back to brick and mortar schools. I would argue that this is a time for consistently in leadership.”

“If we don’t get student safety right, we’ve lost,” Van Zant said. “I’m the only previous superintendent in the room who’s led this school district in the modern era with great results.”

Wiggins showed attention to budgetary issues and made it clear if she won, that would be a focus of her administration. “We should be paying attention to how we spend our money,” she said. “One of the first things I plan to do after I am elected is conduct and audit. We need to go over our budget and our aims and our priorities and see where the money is, where it has been spent and where it can be moved around.”

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