PBC school board chairman: 'Avossa has everlasting impact on the district'

Chairman says Avossa will be missed

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The man in charge of the one of the largest school district's in the state is saying goodbye.

On Monday, Dr. Robert Avossa announced he will be resigning from his superintendent position after three years.

The announcement sent shock waves through the district, with teachers, parents, students and school board members expressing heartfelt sadness over the departure.

On Tuesday, the school board chairman granted only one interview -- with the WPTV’s Alanna Quillen -- to talk about his feelings on the resignation and the impact Dr. Avossa left on the district.

“We’ve come so far in this period of time that we've had him. Our district has grown, our district has got tremendous stability, we've seen a lot of creativity and expansion of skills of so many people who have had the opportunity to learn from him,” said Palm Beach County School board chairman Chuck Shaw. "The public has seen the growth in the system, student performance, stability in our management -- it's been a tremendous success."

Shaw said Avossa's impact will be felt for years to come.

"I've been in the district a long time and served a lot of different roles in the system, and I've been able to learn a lot from him because of his leadership style, his sensitivity -- his understanding of being a parent, he knows what it's like for parents to get up every single day and send your kids off to school and the impact of education," said Shaw. "He's brought that perspective to a real sense of reality for us. It's been a real pleasure to have Dr. Avossa be a part of this system."

Avossa said he's accepted a job for a local publishing company, a decision he states will give him more time for his family.

"I put some things in place and now hopefully we can hand the baton over to someone to continue the work," he said during a press conference on Monday.

Shaw says student performance is one of Avossa's biggest accomplishments.

"Student performance is number one, because we have set a new standard," said Shaw. "Dr. Avossa brought us in Palm Beach County a perspective of the rest of the nation and an understanding of what education trends are throughout the country."

In his resignation letter, Dr. Avossa said during his tenure he was able to give teachers a 9 percent raise and increase pay for over 1,200 lowest wage workers. For students, graduation rates hit an all time high in 2017 of 90 percent for district schools, excluding charter schools.

"That's important because the whole purpose of education is to get kids ready for the world of work and future education -- and if we can graduate more students, then we can get them even more prepared for the world," said Shaw.

Avossa stated during a press conference on Monday that he hopes the school board will hire his replacement from within.

What comes next will be a process, which the school board hopes to get started on this month.

"The board will be scheduling a workshop. At that time, we'll be working on the schedule of events -- what should happen, what our criteria is, what kinds of things we'll be looking at in a new superintendent," he said.

Shaw could not elaborate on any more details and could not say whether there will be candidates from within the Palm Beach County Schools.

"It just depends on what conversations the board has on what the priorities are. It's been a long time since we had gone through the process. But it's an easier process for us to do because the board has been so unified and worked so hard on our mission that I think you'll see that the board will come together and be ready to move," he said.

Shaw said he hopes to get a superintendent in place as soon as possible.

"The quicker and better job we do of selecting a new superintendent, the better it is for the community. Because at that point, we keep our perspective, we keep our focus, we keep our stability of the district, and we have that continuity of leadership," he said.

Avossa is not leaving the district immediately. His resignation is effective on June 12.

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