FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) - After conducting their final interviews and listening to public comment, the Broward School Board has selected interim Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright to be their next superintendent.
An 8-1 vote put Cartwright over the other finalist Michael Gaal. Board member Lori Alhadeff was the lone dissenter. During the meeting Alhadeff said she felt Gaal could fix deep problems within the district.
Cartwright, a lifelong educator, has been leading the district since former Superintendent Robert Runcie left after he was charged with perjury related to a criminal corruption case against a former employee.
WATCH: Q&A With Broward Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright
Cartwright is the first female superintendent to lead the Broward school district. "It is monumental" said board chair Laurie Levinson.
After the vote, Cartwright said the COVID slide among students and staffing shortages will be her initial top priorities.
"The greatest challenge is making sure we are taking care of our children" said Cartwright
Gaal is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel. While he has never taught K through 12, Gaal says he was a pilot instructor in the Air Force and has held top school administrator positions in Washington, D.C., and Oakland, California.
Wednesday morning, each candidate laid out their core message on how they will operate as superintendent for the 200,000 plus students, 28,000 staff members, 230 schools, and nine school board members.
"Because the role of a superintendent is one where you want to know that you have somebody who will be successful in that role. You also want to know that you have someone that's in that role that will lead the district in a positive direction and a unifying direction and always keep students as their primary focus," said Cartwright.
"The will of the board is the will of the board and it is then the job of the superintendent to find his second team or her second team, which is then the staff and the cabinet. How does the superintendent develop adults within the staff to deliver on the expectations of the board? It's very clear to me that there, as a learning institution, we should have learned opportunities for all adults in the system as well," said Gaal.
After the vote, Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco issued a statement saying she was "thrilled" that Cartwright was selected.
"The Broward Teachers Union has supported Dr. Cartwright's candidacy since she announced her intention to seek the permanent position. In the six months that she has served as interim superintendent, she has proven to be an intelligent and excellent leader with an ability to listen to and work with all constituencies. She quickly gained a keen understanding of the District's challenges and opportunities. I look forward to continuing the positive and fruitful relationship we have created and to Dr. Cartwright's long tenure as the leader of Broward County Public Schools."
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