St. Lucie County Superintendent of Schools excited to be back - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

St. Lucie County Superintendent of Schools excited to be back

A new school year begins, but a familiar face has returned to St. Lucie County.

Wayne Gent, who spent the past three years as Palm Beach County Superintendent, calls this a homecoming.

“I’d been here for 20 years so to come back so to come back and see the changes, see the growth in the community.  It's very exciting," said Gent.

Gent said after leaving Palm Beach County, he had a number of options in and out of state, but decided to stay in the area.

“It was a family decision.  We were just ready to do something else.  Looking for new challenges.” 

One place where Gent would like to see improvements in his first year is in the high school graduation rate.  For the last several years, St. Lucie County schools have lagged behind statewide averages.  

According to the most recent numbers from the Department of Education, St. Lucie ranks only above Okeechobee County in our 5-county viewing area.   Gent says the 25% who don’t graduate don’t all necessarily drop out. He says the key is getting them their diplomas on time. 

“Make sure they have the support mechanism in place particularly at the high school level that they know where they are, they know the credits they need.  The testing that needs to be done so they can be successful on that," said Gent.

Students at Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce Westwood High Schools will get laptops this year to use at school and at home.

“It’s a digital world and we’ve got to be in front of that," Gent said, adding that the economic background of a student is no excuse for them not to get the best education possible.

But beyond high-tech solutions, Gent says it’s important schools are safe and caring places for what he calls the “entire child.”

“The total child not just the academic needs, but the social and emotional needs that they face.”

Gent says that with no looming contract negotiations on the horizon, he hopes for a smooth year ahead.

As for testing, Gent is in favor of accountability and standards that have students giving the “hows” and “whys” behind their answers.  However, he wants to make sure it is a fair and valid assessment of what the students know, and he doesn't see that right now in Florida.

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