ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Orange County School Board unanimously voted for Dr. Maria Vazquez to be the district’s next superintendent on Tuesday.
Vazquez, who will serve as the district’s first Hispanic superintendent, has now “entered into negotiations” with the school board. If she accepts the position, she will be leading the ninth largest school district in the U.S., with more than 200,000 students. The superintendent position comes with an annual salary of $295,000 to $350,000.
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Vazquez is Orange County’s deputy superintendent and has been with the district for more than two decades. She has “served at every level of the education system and has extensive expertise in curriculum and instruction” after beginning her career in education as an elementary school and resource teacher in reading and language arts, according to the district.
Records show that, as deputy superintendent, Vazquez helped bring the district’s graduation rate to a “nearly universal” 96% while narrowing the achievement gap for Black and Hispanic students.
School officials also said Vazquez has served as as an assistant principal, principal area superintendent and chief academic officer before being promoted in 2018.
“She has expanded access to advanced coursework for historically underserved students, recruited great teachers to the most vulnerable schools, and reprioritized the district’s budget to support teaching and learning,” the district said in a Facebook post.
The board narrowed its search earlier this month to Dr. Maria Vazquez and Dr. Peter B. Licata, both of whom spoke last week to the public and board members.
According to the district, contract negotiations are currently underway, and a contract approval is expected by July.
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Licata is the regional superintendent for Palm Beach schools and said his experience has prepared him for the role.
Vazquez and Licata, who beat out nine other candidates considered by the Florida School Boards Association, had public interviews on June 21 before attending a “meet & greet” event. Board members then conducted one-on-one interviews with each candidate to ask more in-depth questions.
Current superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins is retiring in December after 10 years in the role. Jenkins’ profile on the OCPS website says she’s been serving the district for 30 years. She was a former deputy superintendent, as well as chief of staff, handling human resources and labor relations, among other duties.
The school board began voting around 5 p.m. and reached a decision about two hours later.