Denver Cook has announced that he is seeking to represent District 4 on the St. Johns County School Board in this year’s election.
Cook said he is running to ensure the school district provides a nationally competitive education, improves the district culture and stabilizes its financial base.
“Our A-rated school district is a key driver of people moving to St. Johns County, but when parents get here they sometimes realize that their children might not get what they expected,” said Cook, who noted that the current school board touts a No 1. ranking in Florida claim, but the district’s own Fast Facts, he said, shows this is based on a compilation of school accountability points. “That doesn’t necessarily translate to top scores at all schools nor at the high schools.”
Allen D. Nease High School, said Cook, was once considered one of the best high schools in Florida and is now ranked No. 4 in St Johns County, according to U.S. News & World Report. SchoolDigger.com, said Cook, shows that from 2016 to 2017, every single high school, except Creekside, in St. Johns County dropped in the state rankings.
Cook said he has his sights set higher for St. Johns County children, his own daughters among them.
“Being No. 1 in Florida is good, but when the state is ranked 40th in Pre-K-12 education, we need to strive for better education,” he said. “Micro-managing tests to drive FCAT scores will only get us so far and is not a strategy for long-term success.”
Cook said he believes the trajectory of school rankings can be changed by looking for innovative solutions and building stronger partnerships between parents and the community.
“Each child needs to reach their full potential, not only in terms of academic success but also by promoting social resilience,” he said. “This means challenging our most talented students with a more rigorous curriculum, providing supportive environments for our special needs children and developing innovative real-world vocational programs for those not on a college track.”
Cook pointed to a program that partners high school students with architects and builders to give students an opportunity to design, plan and build a home each year.
“Partnering with a group like Habitat for Humanity and local businesses would provide tangible skills for students while helping families within our community,” he said.
A U.S. Air Force veteran with seven years of service, his assignments included Central Command J2 Intelligence Staff during Desert Storm and as a founding member of the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific. After his service, Cook worked for nearly 20 years in a variety of large-scale commercial construction roles, including project manager for government contracts with NASA, the U.S. Army Corps and Naval Facilities. He also worked as a residential general contractor.
Prior to moving to St. Johns County in 2012, Cook worked as a corrections officer in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and was a member of the Security Threat Group Intelligence Unit. Cook has been involved in a variety of initiatives in St. Johns County. He is currently chairman of the PACT Prevention Coalition, was past vice chair of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, and served on the PTO/SAC and safety committee at PVPV-Rawlings Elementary and PTO/SAC at Ocean Palms Elementary.
Cook resides in Nocatee with his wife Michelle and their two daughters who attend St. Johns County schools. For more information visit www.denvercook.com.