South Florida Sun Sentinel | By Scott Travis | March 29, 2022
Vickie Cartwright is making one of her first big moves as Broward’s new schools superintendent, appointing two seasoned administrators to fill two new top-level positions.
Cartwright is naming Carmen Balgobin, 50, as the deputy superintendent for teaching and learning, and Judith Marte, 63, as deputy superintendent for operations. The School Board unanimously approved the two hires on Tuesday.
Both have worked with Cartwright before. Balgobin and Cartwright both had long tenures as administrators in Orange County Schools in Central Florida.
Cartwright was associate superintendent while Balgobin was a principal and an executive area director assisting low-performing schools.
Balgobin left Orange in 2018 for an administrative job in Osceola County. She then accepted a job as deputy superintendent in Volusia County in January 2020. During her tenure with Volusia, she also spent nine months as interim superintendent. She now makes $162,363 in Volusia but will be paid $220,000 in her new Broward job.
Marte is well-known in South Florida, as a longtime chief financial officer in Miami-Dade County schools before taking the same job with Broward schools in 2017. She left the school district in July 2021 for a similar job with Florida Virtual School.
Marte was making $204,595 when she worked in Broward and was paid $193,057 by Florida Virtual School, a job that allowed her to stay in Broward County. She will make $225,000 in her new role.
She was one of several top administrators who left last summer during the transition between former Superintendent Robert Runcie stepping down after an arrest on a perjury charge and Cartwright taking over as interim leader. But the uncertainty wasn’t a factor in her leaving, Marte told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
“I was offered an opportunity by the CEO of Florida Virtual, and it was an opportunity to try something new,” Marte said.
However, Marte never fully left the district. Runcie gave her a $30,000 consulting contract in July before he left, and Cartwright agreed to continue it after she became interim superintendent in August. Marte’s duties, according to the contract, included assisting the finance office with the capital and operating budget, federal relief dollars, and the financing of a new Rickards Middle building,
Marte said she’s excited about the chance to work full time again in Broward.
“I’m interested in the job because I want to help Broward County. This is a community I’ve lived in for two decades,” she said. “I think my 34 years of leadership roles in some of the largest districts can add tremendous value.”
Marte has been the rumored choice for the job for weeks, although district officials wouldn’t acknowledge that until Friday, when the agenda was posted.
Asked March 7 if Marte was the favored candidate, the district’s communications office would only say, “Both positions will be posted for qualified applicants.”
Although the Broward school district has suffered an image problem in recent years, due to a failed bond program, a pending grand jury report into mismanagement and declining student achievement during the COVID-19 pandemic, neither administrator voiced any reservations about their new jobs.
“I look at Broward as where we’re going in the future,” Balgobin said. “Broward has a cluster of great people working at all different levels and a great community looking forward to the future.”
She said top priorities will be finding ways to mitigate the learning loss students experienced as many stayed home for half of the spring 2020 semester and much of the 2020-21 school year.
“I want to look at students as whole, physically, mentally and emotionally,” she said.
Balgobin is an immigrant from Venezuela who moved to the United States when she was 17. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and a master’s and doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in Davie.
Marte received a bachelor’s from Merrimack College, near her hometown of Boston, and an MBA from the University of New Hampshire.
Neither of the two deputy superintendent positions existed until three weeks ago when the School Board approved them. Cartwright said she will be cutting other administrative jobs to pay for these.
In a statement, Cartwright said she’s thankful to the School Board for approving a reorganization that includes these new positions.
“Both recommended deputy superintendents have extensive knowledge and experience working in educational institutions,” Cartwright said. “They are ready to hit the ground running as we work together in continuing the positive, forward momentum of Broward County Public Schools.”