Volusia organizations sign letters of support for Fritz contract


Area organizations, universities and colleges have sent several letters to members of the Volusia County School Board in support At Superintendent Scott Fritz contract extension.

Signed letters came from the FUTURES Foundation, Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, Daytona State College, Bethune-Cookman University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Stetson University.

All organizations have expressed concern over a change in leadership in the district.

“We believe that a change in leadership at this time, as the community and school system begins to recover from the pandemic and the strategic plan continues to evolve, would negatively impact the future direction of the school district. of Volusia County,” the letter from the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce said. “The Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce is confident that extending Dr. Fritz’s contract will continue to move Volusia County schools in the right direction and bring stability to our students, teachers, and community.”

Previous cover:No decision has been made regarding the contract extension of Volusia Schools Superintendent Scott Fritz.

Fritz became the district’s top leader in December 2019, concluding a six-month search for a new superintendent after the council ousted Tom Russell.

Four months later, the coronavirus pandemic has swept through, causing drastic changes in all aspects of school life.

And three months later, in July 2020, Fritz took time off for cancer treatment. He was away for seven months and returned in February 2021.

Previous cover:No decision has been made regarding the contract extension of Volusia Schools Superintendent Scott Fritz.

Fritz said he appreciated the community and the support he received regarding the extension of his contract.

“I think we’ve made tremendous progress. And there’s no doubt that it’s a difficult time, getting through the pandemic has certainly provided challenges, but I think the successes are there,” Fritz said in a statement. interview with The News-Journal on Thursday. “And I think what’s great is that the community realizes that and there’s a lot of work to do.”

Why do people oppose the renewal of the contract?

Fritz’s contract is not up for renewal until the fall, but district employees and parents have spoken out against it at recent school board meetings.

Fritz’s salary is $205,000 and in May 2021 he received a $10,000 bonus for his strategic plan.

Major concerns include how Fritz handled protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly after returning from leave; the institution of the mask mandate in September, which is now under state control; express opinions to vaccinate and mask children; Fritz’s position on COVID-19 vaccinations; lack of communication with employees; unsupportive work environments; and low pay.

“It’s not very comfortable,” Fritz said after hearing complaints at the Feb. 23 meeting. “When people want change, change is a funny thing. Everyone wants it and so you do it, and once you start doing it, people get uncomfortable. Leaders understand that. and I understand that, and I think the vast majority of people are very grateful for the direction we’re taking.”

The board discussed Fritz’s contract renewal for nearly three hours during the Feb. 23 meeting. There was some confusion over whether or not there should be a vote on extending the contract.

While board members Carl Persis and Linda Cuthbert were supportive of the contract extension, chairman Ruben Colon and board members Jamie Haynes and Anita Burnette didn’t feel like they had enough information to take a decision.

In the end, the board voted to continue the discussion at a workshop scheduled for March 22; the discussion is also on the agenda for that evening’s board meeting, where the public can comment.

Letters of support

The last two district superintendents were abruptly fired, which Fritz supporters believe led to instability in the district.

Dr. Christopher Roellke, president of Stetson University, said the rapid turnover of superintendents in recent years has made it difficult for the district and the university to partner.

“Stetson encourages the school board to follow its normal leadership performance review and contract renewal processes and urges the board to consider the impact of rapid leadership turnover in our community,” Roellke said in a joint statement with the other three institutions of higher education. “It should be noted that leading in these exceptionally difficult times is no easy task.”

FUTURES Foundation President Heather Vargas said in her letter to the district that the organization does not take a position on political or employment issues.

“We wanted to write to you, however, to let you know that as business leaders, we understand that consistency in leadership and strategy is important to the success of any organization, including Volusia County Schools” , Vargas said. “FUTURES has been briefed on and received updates on the Volusia County Schools Strategic Plan and wishes to express our position that the strategic plan aligns with the goals and objectives of the Volusia County business community. Volusia, and we want to see it continue.”

FUTURES strives to increase the involvement of the business community in the school district and to provide programs and activities beyond the financial capabilities of the district. The nonprofit is the only organization that provides assistance to all public schools in Volusia County, according to its website.

Thomas LoBasso, president of Daytona State College, said Fritz helped boost the number of dual enrollments at the college to the highest level in its history, including an 1,800% increase in enrollment in their machinery, welding, and welding programs. and automobile collision.

“One of the concerns expressed by the Volusia County School Board prior to Dr. Fritz’s arrival was the lack of dual enrollment in career and technical/vocational programs,” LoBasso said. “Dr. Fritz and his team met with the Daytona State team and the results after one year were phenomenal.”

Hiram Powell, interim president of Bethune-Cookman University, said Fritz’s strategic plan was “inspiring and hopeful.”

P. Barry Butler, president of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said that for the first time in 50 years, directors, advisers and senior leaders were brought to the university by Fritz to learn how the programs are conducted. community jobs for students.

“Collectively, with its leadership team, our team members are working on the best programs that will prepare our Volusia County students for the careers of tomorrow,” he said. As the rapidly growing space industry moves into Volusia County, we need this kind of leadership to prepare our students for the future.”

During the last board meeting, Len Marinaccio, member of the FUTURES Foundation; Forough Hosseini, founder of Food Brings Hope; Nancy Keefer, President and CEO of the Daytona Regional Chamber; and Daisy Grimes of the Volusia County African American Leadership Council all spoke in favor of extending Fritz’s contract.

“It’s so important that my contract be extended because this work has started, we have to finish it,” Fritz said. “The level of support that currently exists to achieve this is very, very warm and heartfelt.”

Nikki Ross covers K-12 education, health and COVID-19 for the Daytona Beach News-Journal. She can be reached at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @nikkiinreallife.


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