“You don’t paint everyone with one broad brush,” Bartleman said. “I wasn’t afraid to say, ‘We need to fix something.’”
If re-elected, Bartleman’s priorities include replicating the district’s successful specialty programs, such as its Montessori schools. Barkins says he would implement new accountability evaluations for district administrators, while Wilson promises to ensure children from all parts of the district get their fair share of resources.
District 3: Board member Katherine “Katie” Leach was appointed last year in a time of upheaval — the district was reeling from the findings of a critical grand jury report, and was in the midst of a search for a new superintendent.
An hour after being sworn in, Leach joined the rest of the board in reviewing the resumes of superintendent candidates. Chicago’s Robert Runcie ultimately became the board’s pick, and Leach says the district, under Runcie’s leadership, has since made tangible progress.
As an example, Leach cites the district’s long-troubled transportation department, which has been reorganized in the upcoming budget year. Through operational changes and some eliminated positions, the district expects to save $14 million.
“We had, at one point, employees who were only coming to work 70 percent of the time,” Leach said. “That department has had a history of nepotism and corruption and waste.”
Challenging Leach in this race is former district building inspector C. Rebecca “Becky” Blackwood and social studies teacher Michael Levinson.
Blackwood said the district has been taking “baby steps” in the right direction, but that having a board member with her construction expertise is key. School Board members have been roundly criticized in the past for making poor decisions when it comes to construction contracts.
“They need somebody up there who does have that experience,” said Blackwood, who has spent 28 years in the construction industry.
Levinson, a Plantation Middle School social studies teacher who earned his school’s Teacher of the Year honors in 2007, said parents urged him to run. Levinson calls teaching the “core of the enterprise” in the Broward schools system, and said his background would serve him well as a board member. Among Levinson’s priorities: creating an improved, more-objective way of evaluating teacher performance, and improving the district’s finances through efficiency and new sources of revenue.
“People are frustrated,” Levinson said. “What they really don’t like is the fact that they pay what they consider to be high taxes ... and they don’t feel like they’re getting their money’s worth.”
The district includes portions of Fort Lauderdale, Plantation, Oakland Park and Wilton Manors.
District 4: This northwest Broward district has been the School Board’s revolving door, with the winner of this race set to be the fourth person to hold this position in three years. The instability began after Stephanie Kraft was arrested on corruption charges. Her replacement resigned for family reasons, and the next replacement, Korn, is leaving this seat to campaign for a countywide School Board post.