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Robert Runcie: Superintendent, Broward County Public Schools (BCPS)

Robert Runcie: Superintendent, Broward County Public Schools (BCPS)

 

Introduction to Robert Runcie. 1:00 min.  Interview:  Raymond Elman.  Camera: Christina Hester.  Videography & production:  Fabian Osorio.  Recorded:  11/20/2019, Broward County Public School Headquarters, Florida.
 

 

Editor’s Note: This video interview was recorded in November, 2019.

 

As superintendent of the nation’s sixth largest school district — with over 270,000 students in 337 schools and approximately 30,000 employees –- Broward County Public Schools Superintendent ROBERT W. RUNCIE is committed to “Educating Today’s Students to Succeed in Tomorrow’s World.”

Runcie knows first-hand how a high-quality education can transform a person’s life. Born in Jamaica, he moved to the United States as a young boy and became the first member of his family to attend college, graduating from Harvard University and earning an MBA from Northwestern University. He later founded a management and technology consulting company and held several strategic leadership positions with Chicago Public Schools, including serving as its Chief Information Officer, Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Area Instructional Officer and Chief of Staff to the Board of Education.

Runcie joined Broward County Public Schools in 2011. With the support of a dynamic School Board, Runcie developed a strategic plan for the District, focusing on three key areas: high-quality instruction, continuous improvement, and more effective communications.

As part of these strategic goals, Runcie spearheaded technology innovations in the classroom. Among the initiatives is the Digital 5: Pathways to Personalized Learning project, which provides a blended, personalized learning environment for students and teachers from 100 elementary schools with laptops, digital resources, online instructional materials, and other learning tools to maximize student learning.

In addition, under his leadership, BCPS became the only Florida school district selected for a unique partnership with the national non-profit organization Code.org, to increase students’ opportunities to learn computer science in schools.

To ensure all students have the ability to complete their education and to eliminate the “school house to jailhouse pipeline,” Runcie led BCPS efforts to become a national model for ending zero tolerance policies for non-violent offences in schools. With the support of the School Board and through collaborative community efforts, BCPS has instituted new, effective practices for handling student behavior incidents, without resorting to law enforcement involvement. Student-related arrests are down by 65% since Runcie’s arrival.

Runcie’s leadership has netted the District numerous distinctions, including 26 BCPS high schools recognized as “America’s Most Challenging” by The Washington Post, 16 BCPS high schools ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, 10 BCPS magnet programs earned the prestigious National Merit Awards from Magnet Schools of America, Advanced Placement (AP) pass rate is the highest in more than 10 years, the graduation rate is the highest in five years, and in the 2015/16 school year, BCPS technical college students earned the most industry certifications in the state. In addition, BCPS is the first fully-accredited K-12 and adult school district.

In addition, Runcie has increased the District’s investment in music and art programs, launched the redesign of underperforming schools, expanded vocational and technical centers, where students earn over 6,000 industry certifications annually, introduced K-8 school models and established the District’s first military academy.

Utilizing his strong business background, Runcie has implemented operational efficiencies that have allowed the District to reinvest millions of dollars back into classrooms. A few areas seeing significant transformation:  reductions in healthcare costs, enhanced wellness programs for employees, facilities management realignment and improvements to transportation services.

His commitment to collaborating with stakeholders and creating partnerships has earned Superintendent Runcie state and national recognition, including being selected as 2016 Florida Superintendent of the Year, 2015 ALAS Hispanic Serving Superintendent of the Year, 2014 Florida Virtual School Superintendent of the Year, 2014 Consortium of Florida Education Foundations Superintendent of the Year, Champion District Superintendent of the Year for Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools, the Florida Department of Education’s District Data Leader of the Year Finalist, and a 2014 Leader to Learn From by Education Week.

Runcie is actively involved in the community and serves on the board of several organizations, including Code.org, Council of the Great City Schools, United Way of Broward County, Urban League of Broward County, Children Services Council, Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. He is also a frequent speaker for numerous community-based organizations.

With students from over 200 countries, speaking more than 130 different languages, Runcie values diversity. He supported the creation of South Florida Association of Latino Administrators & Superintendents (ALAS) and works closely with the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NASBE) and the Council of the Great City Schools.

Runcie credits the District’s success to the support of the School Board and a talented leadership team sharing his philosophy that “the true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own.”

— from the Broward County Public Schools website.

 

The videos below are organized by topic and run between 30 seconds and 5 minutes. Click on any video. You must be connected to the Internet to view the videos.

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION:  2:51 min.

Where did you grow up, and what was your first exposure to art of any discipline?

 

SELF-CONFIDENCE:  3:59 min.

What was it like to transition from Hyde Park to Harvard University?

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION:  2:40 min.

We published an Inspicio video interview with artist Tina Spiro, who has lived in Jamaica for 40 years, and knew Prime Minister Michael Manley. What are your thoughts about Manley?

 

CRITICAL THINKING:  4:33 min.

What inspired you to switch from a business career to a career in public education?

 

COMMUNITY VALUES:  5:23 min.

Studies have shown that arts education is important for all students, not just for the most talented students, because arts education helps develop critical thinking and a world view. Yet most school systems have seriously slashed their art budgets. What is the Broward County Public School system doing to educate and expose all students to the arts?

 

SEIZES OPPORTUNITIES:  1:04 min.

Give us an example of how you leverage artists in the Broward County Public Schools.

 

EMPATHY: 2:38 min.

One of your schools, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, was the scene of a mass shooting, and the surviving students have been notably creative, articulate, and persistent in demanding better gun legislation. Have the arts played a role in building public awareness of this cause?

 

COLLABORATION:  1:04 min.

Do people in the arts who perform, exhibit, or lecture in the Miami area and do community outreach, reach out to Broward County at the same time?

 

OVERCOMES CHALLENGES TO SUCCEED:  4:13 min.

What are the biggest challenges you face right now?

 

VALUES FIRST-RATE EDUCATION:  1:07 min.

The Scandinavian approach to education elevates the prestige of being a teacher and rewards them with good salaries. The payback is high performing students. We don’t seem to be able to import that approach to the U.S.

 

OVERCOMES CHALLENGES TO SUCCEED:  3:20 min.

Describe a challenging situation you have encountered with a successful outcome.

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION:  2:12 min.

Working with the NEA, I recorded video interviews with the top performing teachers in under-served schools. I was blown away by their stories of going way beyond their job descriptions to help students realize their potential.

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION:  2:17 min.

                                                                         

What’s your favorite movie?

 

SERENDIPITY:  1:30 min.

What has been the role of serendipity in your career?

 

SEIZES OPPORTUNITIES:  1:13 min.

Former Massachusetts governor (and presidential candidate) Deval Patrick had a life trajectory similar to yours — going from the South Side of Chicago to prestigious Milton Academy to Harvard and Harvard Law. Did you know him when you were at Harvard?

 

COLLABORATION:  1:04 min.

How can Inspicio help the arts to flourish in your school district?

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION:  1:27 min.

We should select a few teachers to interview and create a pilot program. Does any teacher come readily to mind?

 

CREATES A UNIQUE PERSONAL BRAND:  1:49 min.

Describe some of the creative initiatives in BCPS beyond what most people expect when they think about K-12 art programs.

 

CRITICAL THINKING:  1:43 min.

Speech and debate programs can be so impactful on students.

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION:  0:53 sec.

When we interviewed filmmaker John Waters, he said that he didn’t graduate from any schools because they kept kicking him out. But he read books every day, and he came to believe that as long as people read books they will be civil to one another.