Board Member: Carl Persis
Serving District: 4
Phone: 386-624-8334
Member since: 2016
Term: 2020-2024

Carl Persis became one of two newly elected board members of Volusia County Schools, along with Anita Burnette, in November 2020. Persis had been a student in the system himself, having grown up in the area and graduating from Seabreeze High School. 

Persis has earned undergraduate degrees from Daytona State College and the University of Central Florida, and was awarded a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Stetson University. 

He’s no stranger to public education, serving as a Volusia County School District principal for 27 years, an assistant principal for three years, and a teacher for five years. He is chair of the Central Florida Public Schools Board Coalition, which represents more than one million students and 14 school districts. 

Persis is also no stranger to public service, having been elected to office five times for a total of 14 years while principal, including Volusia County Council, District 4, Mayor of Ormond Beach, and Ormond Beach City Commissioner, Zone 4.

He is married to his wife Susan and has two married children and three grandchildren. 

VOLUSIA PARENT: Why did you want to run to become a school board member?

CP: Education is just in my DNA, and when I re-retired, it was at the end of 2011 … I’ve been involved in… government for a long time … I loved being a public servant. And I was a public servant, wearing two hats. 

And then I ran for the school board in 2016. So, I had some years away from it. And, all those things that you think about doing when you’re planning to re-retire from something you’ve done for 35 years. And I just wasn’t happy with some of the things that were happening in our school district. And I just thought, this may be a good time for me to get a get back in it. Not that things were terrible, but I just thought I may be able to help make things a little bit better

VP: What did you learn during your campaign from your constituents?

CP: What I would hear often is the notion that all students aren’t interested in going to college and can the schools prepare students for other things, [like] preparing students for work. Or maybe it would be more in the line of schools need[ing] to do a better job of making students aware of what some career opportunities are, what some jobs are. 

So what jobs are out there …connect[s] with what I like to do…, what my strengths are, and then, follow that up in the high school years [by] having the students organize their schedules and their classes based on where they would like to be [and] what they would like to do when they graduate high school. So that’s the plan and that’s what we’re working on now.

VP: What were some of your campaign issues, and how will you fulfill them?

CP: I think one of the issues was directing more of our budget toward increasing teacher salaries, which have always been a very low. 

We are heavily funded through the Florida Legislature. We, even as school board members, don’t have the authority to raise the taxes here in Volusia County, [including] the property taxes to generate more funds for our general operating budget. So we are limited in our revenue stream. We did achieve some success last year, and the governor did pour more money [in], specifically to raise the base salary for teachers in the state of Florida.

VP: How has your career in public education and public service prepared you as a school board member?

CP: What I bring is [the perspective] that education, is a lot more than policy, it’s about relationships, it’s connecting with children, it’s connecting with their families, it’s having some empathy and some understanding for what students have to deal with in their daily lives. 

And, it’s not to create a structure where it’s one size fits all. And just to make sure that we have sort of an unwritten policy that we’re going to do whatever it takes to ensure that each child is successful. I bring the human touch into this whole business, because it is very easy for a bunch of adults to sit in a boardroom and just talk about stuff.

VP: What does the school system get right, right now?

CP:I think what we’re getting right is helping our high school students. Our graduation rate went up three points. I think our graduation rate now is hovering around 90%. It wasn’t long ago when it was around 75%. So I think we’re doing a good job now of helping our high school students, not letting them just, as we say, fall through the cracks.

VP: What are some areas for improvement?

CP: Perhaps implement a better discipline system, a system where it’s not so much about punishment, or consequences, but it’s more about actually helping students learn from their mistake and to be sensitive about how their actions affected others.

VP: What would you like your legacy with the school board to be?

CP: Carl was someone that always put children first. And he came to the board with a smile and positive attitude. [He] never had an axe to grind and always wanted to be a team player and just serve as a champion for the Volusia County School District.

Patrick Evans-Hylton is an award-winning journalist, having covering a wide variety of topics in broadcast, electronic, and print media since 1995. Read about him at 

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