The new superintendent of Charlotte County public schools has a plan for students, and it doesn’t necessarily include college as the end goal.
The first order of business for Superintendent Mark Vianello and the Charlotte County School Board was to pass its largest budget ever: $512 million. The next is to develop a new strategic plan for the next five years.
“I want to make sure that we are meeting the workforce and economic development needs of the community, of the region and of the state and making sure our students are leaving with the skills and abilities to be successful,” Vianello said.
To make that happen, Vianello told WINK News that one of his top priorities is making sure every student graduates with a plan, whether it be education, enlistment or (a trend that Vianello hopes to see continue) employment.
“We have to be relevant to our students,” Vianello said. “We have to be relevant to our community, as well. If we’re going to invest those types of tax dollars into our school system, then our students should be leaving with good opportunities and a plan for what’s next for them.”
Vianello pointed to the district’s new aviation maintenance program at Charlotte Technical College as an example.
“That is a wonderful program that started last year: We have 14 graduates, 12 of which… already have secured jobs, not only locally but around the country as well,” Vianello said. “We’ll be having conversations, evaluating our programs, making sure our programs are relevant.”
Another part of the strategic plan involves recruiting and retaining teachers, but Vianello is taking over a school district that pays educators pretty well: Charlotte County teachers’ $54,000 annual starting salary surpasses those in Lee and Collier counties, but Charlotte County schools still have some openings.
“The goal is to make sure every classroom has a highly qualified teacher in front of our students, and we’re getting close to reaching that goal,” Vianello said. “We’re not there yet.”