Mayor Teresa Jacobs running for Orange County school board chair

Outgoing mayor calls for safe environment, respect for teachers


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – With term limits ending her eight-year run as Orange County mayor, Teresa Jacobs announced 
her candidacy Wednesday for chair of the county’s school board.

In an interview at News 6 studios the day before Wednesday’s announcement, Jacobs admitted
her decision surprised a lot of people who envisioned her seeking a seat in Tallahassee or Washington.

“I’d love to believe that one person can make a difference (in Washington), but I wouldn’t make the change I’d like to see and have the impact on the lives of our local citizens as a congresswoman today as I would make as being a school board chair today,” Jacobs said.

Rumors surrounding Jacobs’ interest in the school board chair position started building during the past few weeks.

Sources told News 6 that Jacobs advised Nancy Robbinson, a school board member endorsed by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, of her intentions to run last week.

Jacobs, who served as county commissioner before being elected as county mayor in 2010, is set to leave office at the end of 2018.

“I think I can make the greatest change and the greatest impact by being school board chair … higher office isn’t more effective, and I’m driven to make a change,” Jacobs said.

Her potential competition in the race for school board chair includes Robbinson, who has been a board member since 2008; Matthew Fitzpatrick, an assistant director at Orange Technical College Administrator; and Robert Prater, a teacher at Oak Hill Elementary School.

[Watch below: Mayor Teresa Jacobs discusses the process behind her decision to run for Orange County school board]

When asked if she thought she would win, Jacobs said, “I certainly hope so, but I don’t take anything for granted. I want very much to win, and at the end of the day, it (will be) very much up to the citizens of Orange County.”

Jacobs officially announced her run for Orange County School Board chair on Wednesday. Her husband, two of her grown children, a former school board member and her four children's former principal were by her side as Jacobs made the announcement.

A product of public education, Jacobs said without it, "there is no equality and there is no future for this country."

The Orange County mayor said she plans to use her former position to raise the profile of Orange County Public Schools and work with legislation in Tallahassee for better funding.

She also said she was not in favor of arming teachers as a response to recent school shootings.

"I don’t think that works for our kids, and I don’t think that works for our teachers," Jacobs said.

[Watch below: Mayor Jacobs recalls how one teacher helped her go from hating math to loving it]

Jacobs said she would rather lawmakers give Florida schools the funding they need for security, ensuring every school as a law enforcement officer on campus. She hopes that if the school district gives her an assessment of the funding needed to make that happen, the legislation would come back with the budget.

For those who are surprised by Jacobs' decision to take on an elected position in the school system, she said she is no stranger to Orange County Public Schools. Jacobs said she has worked with the school board members for years.

"Please give me four more years to see what I can do to make Orange County schools the best school district in Florida," Jacobs said to voters.

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