New Volusia County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ronald “Scott” Fritz has introduced a plan for vaccinating sixth-graders, along with three new or revised positions: chief of human resources, chief of information and technology, and deputy superintendent for teaching, leading and learning.
Fritz announced the changes at the Dec. 10 School Board meeting.
Although some members were apprehensive about the cost of the three positions — the salaries to be determined by similar salaries in comparative school districts — the School Board was in consensus when it came to the need for them.
“It’s the first step of many to move our district forward,” School Board Member Linda Cuthbert said.
Volusia County Schools may have a new superintendent, but the problems are old.
At a 10 a.m. workshop on rezoning that preceded the regular meeting, School Board members grappled with a long history and a quickly changing future.
According to the discussion, the county’s current school zones are partly the product of rezoning to achieve racial integration in the late 1960s.
While the intent was to expand access, the problems are familiar and complicated — including students being bused to schools outside their communities.
Newer School Board Members Jamie Haynes and Ruben Colón disagreed about how to draw school zones, with Haynes promoting students attending schools close to their homes, and Colón advocating for zoning based on socioeconomic data rather than geography.
Both were stymied by the slow process of rezoning, consolidating and building new schools.
“Maybe it seems really slow, but we kinda learned a little bit through the years here. Let’s just take it slow,” School Board Member Carl Persis said, speaking specifically on the possibility of consolidating Osceola Elementary in Ormond Beach and Ortona Elementary in Daytona Beach.
Rezoning has led to some odd situations. Students at Pride Elementary in Deltona, for example, are zoned to attend Creekside Middle in Port Orange, and high school in New Smyrna Beach.
This is the result of Samsula Elementary closing and Pride opening, and is a newer problem, according to Director for Planning and Business Services Saralee Morrissey.
The area is quickly growing, with one of the fastest-growing populations in the county.
“Thirty years ago, there were no children in DeBary,” School Board Member Haynes said.
As the district grows, and examines and evaluates its infrastructure, the ability for families to choose among schools has to be part of the conversation, the School Board said.
“The issue of choice has to be part of how we look at this, because there is no right or wrong on this,” Morrissey said.
“We have the right, and really the responsibility, to create choice,” School Board Chairwoman Ida Wright said.
Superintendent Fritz said he has a plan to address that.
“We have plans for a huge choice fair next November as part of our initiatives in this district,” the superintendent said.