Mayor Teresa Jacobs wins Orange County School Board chair race

'I'm excited about the challenge,' Jacobs says


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs won the race for Orange County School Board chair during Tuesday's primary election.

Jacobs was up against three other candidates for the position: School board member Nancy Robbinson, assistant director at Orange Technical College Matthew Fitzpatrick and Oak Hill Elementary teacher Robert Allen Prater.

With 52 percent of the vote, Jacobs narrowly avoided having to run in the November election. 

"I know I've got a lot of work ahead of me, I know it was huge expectations and that's a little nerve wracking but I'm excited about the challenge, I'm excited to see where we can take our school district to. We've got to be the best in the state and the best in the nation and we've got all parts in our school system to make that happen already, great teachers, great leadership in this community. So I'm really excited," Jacobs said after her win on Tuesday.

Jacobs, a Republican, was unable to run for mayor due to term limits. She said when she announced her candidacy that she wanted to work with officials in Tallahassee to secure better funding and resources for Orange County Public Schools.

"(Safety) is No. 1 priority, I know people say statistically nothing is going to happen but it's not OK when you are mom, it's not OK when you are going to school and are afraid. So what I want to see, I want to see all our schools fully hardened, I want to see a deputy at everyone one of our schools as soon as we can get here. Our last conversation with the sheriff's team is that they are expediting the hiring and they are expediting the training so we can get there as soon as possible," Jacobs said Tuesday.

Robbinson, who was endorsed by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, has been a board member since 2008. She listed her main priorities as creating a safe academic environment, promoting student achievement and supporting teachers. She earned 25 percent of the vote.

Fitzpatrick has 25 years of experience in the field of education and has worked at several schools across the county. While campaigning, he focused on issues related to teacher retention, classroom safety and fostering relationships between teachers and pupils. Officials said Fitzpatrick earned 16 percent of the votes.

Prater emphasized the importance of having someone with an educator's perspective serving as the school board chair. He told the Orlando Sentinel that he'd like to see more bilingual educators in the district, improvements in policies regarding student discipline and making sure teachers aren't discourage by ensuring that their voices are heard. He earned 5 percent of the vote.

Click here to see election results statewide.



About the Author: