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Thursday Ends Notter’s Reign Over Broward Schools

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Broward School Superintendent James Notter   (Source: CBS4)

Broward School Superintendent James Notter (Source: CBS4)

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami.com) – After spending 25 years in the Broward County School District, Thursday is Broward County Schools Superintendent Jim Notter’s last day. Notter, 64, has been at the top of the school system for just under four years.

“For me it’s been a dream come true,” Notter said 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.”

But, while he achieved his dream, Notter fears the desire to cut budgets across the state to the bone may keep many of the students from achieving their dreams.

“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.”

Notter also admitted he 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, and the majority of that goes to teachers!”

As for the 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.”

So 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.”

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