FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – On Thursday, Broward Schools Superintendent Jim Notter will retire from the district.
Notter, who turns 65 years old in August, has held the position for just under four years and he has spent a total of 25 years with the school district.
Notter reflected on his time leading the nation’s sixth largest public school district to CBS4’s Joan Murray.
“For me it’s been a dream come true,” Notter says on being appointed superintendent in 2007. “I can exit proudly. I’ve achieved the dream to be a superintendent in a major public school system.”
Contemplating the future of education in Florida, Notter said he fears the lack of adequate funding from the state.
“If you look at the reduction of money, we are back at 2006 funding. The last time I checked the calendar it was 2011,” said Notter. “I believe we are on the verge of losing traditional public education. Schools are punished for not meeting a certain benchmark. I believe in positive reinforcement, more incentives for schools to succeed.”
When it comes to the push for more charter schools, Notter said, “We cannot stay at the adversarial role. We can’t be against each other. We better align with each other.”
Notter said he is especially proud of the district being a Broad Award Winner for three out of the last four years.
The award recognizes closing the achievement gap among nationalities and for the number of Advanced Placement courses.
Yet Notter admits he’s had a very rocky relationship with the Broward Teacher’s Union.
“Out of 37 years in education I spent ten as a classroom teacher.” He said he’s been frustrated with the inflexibility on raises. “Look at the Race to the Top dollars. The union has dug their heels in and said ‘no raise, no Race to the Top’ and we’re going to lose 30 million dollars and the majority of that goes to teachers!”
Notter’s retirement comes at a time when the district is facing tough economic times. The district is dealing with a massive deficit that means teacher layoffs.
“If I were to start all over I would partner with lawmakers in other counties. Education drives the economy. You can’t continue to cut and think you are going to attract companies to Florida.”
As for that scathing Grand Jury report that was released in February accusing the school board of squandering millions of tax dollars and criticizing Notter for tolerating meddling, Notter said flatly, “I thought it was an attack on Broward County. I believe we were an easy target, because of the arrest and conviction of a school board member,” he said referring to disgraced ex board member Beverly Gallagher. “I knew when I wanted this job I am not going to please everyone.”
When asked what else he would do over, “I would have partnered with private industry to help us get the word out about all our kids. We graduate 15-thousand a year and consistently they are accepted to the Harvards and Yales and military academies.”
Still Notter says he is looking forward to retirement.
How will he spend his first day in retirement, this Friday, July 1st?
“I will get up at 4:30 a.m., grind my own coffee beans, and walk two blocks to the beach and watch the sun come up.”
Notter said he is looking forward to the time he will spend with his four grandchildren.
And he says though he is retiring from the district he is not retiring from the work force.
“I’m waiting for the phone to ring,” he said. “I guarantee you that whatever I do it will be something in education and something to do with children.”