Florida 2016 Superintendent of the Year"The battle for quality education is the social justice cause of our time. If you believe that every child has the right to a quality education, then there is no more important work than providing the right leadership to dramatically transform public education in this country. I have found my passion and purpose in life – to improve the human condition by giving every child an equal chance to excel and achieve happiness. It all starts at the top with one of the most challenging and important jobs in America – the urban school superintendent."
– Robert W. Runcie
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.”