Duval School Board member Scott Shine on Friday again urged colleagues on the Board to ask Superintendent Nikolai Vitti to stay in Jacksonville, saying Vitti would if asked.

 

Shine, speaking during an emergency Board meeting, said Jacksonville’s community and business leaders are watching the Board’s actions, hoping they won’t let Vitti walk away.

“Yes, Detroit is Dr. Vitti’s hometown; but I believe here today that Jacksonville is also his home,” Shine said. “We could change the situation if we present a unified board and say, ‘We want you to stay.’”

Vitti, who was not at the meeting, earlier this week was selected by Detroit’s school board to become its next superintendent. He had applied for the job and was one of two finalists.

Vitti is next likely to enter negotiations with Detroit on the terms of his contract, including a date when he is expected to transition from Duval to Detroit.

Detroit news media have reported that though Detroit’s Board expects Vitti to begin functioning as a consultant on May 1, negotiations have been delayed by a Detroit resident’s lawsuit challenging that Board’s actions. By Tuesday a judge is expected to decide on the temporary restraining order after examining Detroit Board meeting tapes to see if that board complied with state open meetings laws.

Meanwhile, Vitti and Duval Board Chairwoman Paula Wright have said that he and other district leaders are focused on Duval district matters, including annual state testing, financial budgeting for next school year, and contract negotiations with a variety of unions, including Duval Teachers United.

Wright said she recently spoke with Vitti and, although there are no firm dates for his departure, “Dr. Vitti is high, he’s positive, he’s excited about the new opportunities and new challenges for him in Detroit.”

Wright disagreed with Shine that a Board message could change Vitti’s mind. She asked if other board members agreed with Shine but no one else spoke up.

Earlier in the meeting, the Board made an emergency change to its policies so contracts amounting to $50,000 or more would come before the Board for votes. Currently, the threshold is $75,000.

The Board also passed an emergency change to so any memorandum of understanding on teacher compensation would need a board vote.

These emergency changes will revert to the old policies in 90 days unless the Board adopts them permanently.

Denise Smith Amos: 904-359-4083