Gov. Rick Scott’s short list for Florida’s next lieutenant governor includes a handful of impressive women, such as Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Dana Young, and one surprising name: registered Democrat and Orange County Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins.
Sources shared Jenkins’ position on Scott’s pick list with the Orlando Sentinel, and Orange County School Board Chairman Bill Sublette said he is aware of her interest in the job.
Despite differences in party registration, Scott and Jenkins have a lot in common, particularly through Scott’s efforts to boost teacher pay and public education funding. The two worked together on an education task force, and — according to the OS — “gush praise” for each other.
In March, Scott invited Jenkins to attend his State of the State address in Tallahassee, in which he recognized Jenkins for her commitment to the teachers in her district and her dedication to student achievement.
And in May, following Scott’s signing of the budget, Jenkins said, “Governor Rick Scott’s unwavering commitment to Florida teachers and students resulted in the states’ largest increase in education funding in recent history. His leadership is helping to move Florida’s education system in the right direction.”
Orange County Public Schools is the nation’s 10th largest school district in which Jenkins started as a teacher and moved up through the ranks, becoming a principle and senior director of elementary education. Jenkins has deep roots in central Florida: she graduated from Winter Park High School and earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in education from the University of Central Florida.
As superintendent, Jenkins has rolled out initiatives to make classroom instruction more data-driven while also working to ensure that extracurricular activities such as fine arts and sports have a place in her budget.