POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The painstaking, thorough search for a new Polk County school superintendent is over with a unanimous vote in support of a Prairie State man.
“Thank you so much. I’m thrilled. Thank you for all the support, all the kind words,” said Frederick Heid over the phone after he heard the news Tuesday night.
Heid was chosen to replace Jacqueline Byrd, who is retiring.
Heid has spent the last seven years as superintendent of Community Unit School District 300 in Algonquin, Illinois.
That school district has 21,000 students. Polk County has more than 100,000 students.
He referred to his relationship with the seven-member board as “another marriage.”
“We’re not always going to agree but we have to work together professionally. We have to work together with one sincere focus with commitment to our staff and our students and our community,” Heid said.
His application shows he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Florida in Tampa and worked in the Duval County Public Schools from 2010-2012 where he was Bureau Chief of School Improvement for the Florida Department of Education.
“It has been my mission in public education to rise above political politics, to rise above and beyond personal beliefs and perceptions, to get beyond the emotion to remain focused on our children,” Heid said during an interview with the school board last week.
“He individualizes education to each pupil and he’s going to meet them where they are and to me, that is so important,” School board chair Lori Cunningham said.
The Polk Education Association, which represents teachers in the district, is “thrilled” with the choice.
“Mr. Heid was a complete professional in all our meetings with him prior to his hiring and we are excited to work in concert with him and the School District for the years to come,” wrote Susan Cameron, Vice President of the Polk Education Association.
“When people approached him in our district and they said ‘We’d be happy to work for you’ for somebody to say ‘You don’t work for me, we work together – these are things our staff wants to hear,” School board member Lisa Miller said.
Heid and the school board will now move forward with contract negotiations. The contract is expected to go to a vote for approval on May 11.