Gov. Rick Scott fills vacancy on Broward School Board

The new face on the Broward School Board is Heather Brinkworth of Fort Lauderdale.

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday appointed Brinkworth, 45, to a vacancy created when board member Katie Leach resigned in December. The governor’s decision represented something of a victory for Leach, as she supported Brinkworth during the months-long, behind-the-scenes lobbying of Scott’s office to pick a replacement.

Brinkworth is a regional program manager for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and previously worked as a reading teacher at Stranahan High School and Lauderhill Middle Community School. She has served as chair of the Fort Lauderdale’s Education Advisory Board and as PTA president at Bayview elementary school.

She did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Leach stepped down late last year due to her husband’s job prompting her to move out of state. Brinkworth’s term starts immediately and ends Nov. 18.

“Heather’s dedication to serving students makes her a great choice to serve on the Broward County School Board,” Scott said in a press release. “I am confident that she will continue her work to provide the students of Broward County with a great education.”

Brinkworth first registered in Broward in 1986 as a Republican and switched to independent in 2000, according to Broward election records. On Oct. 22, she changed her registration back to Republican. Leach announced she was stepping down in October.

Technically school board members run non-partisan — the majority of the board is Democrat.

As a board member, Brinkworth will be tasked with setting policy for the nation’s sixth-largest school district at a time of great challenges and uncertainty. Broward’s district schools continue to steadily lose students to competing charter schools — a trend that threatens the school system’s long-term future.

The school district also is struggling with buildings that desperately need repairs. There are dozens of schools with leaky roofs or other urgent repair needs, and Broward doesn’t have nearly enough money to fix them all. The Legislature has rejected Broward’s pleas for more money, so it is likely that county voters will be asked to approve a bond issue or sales tax hike sometime in the near future.

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