by KATHRYN DENTATO
Hernando Sun Writer
School Superintendent John Stratton called the meeting to order, explaining that because of the recent election, he was presiding over the meeting as the school board was being reorganized. He introduced each board member, the student representative and the school board attorney.
The Honorable Kristie Ruppe administered the oath to returning board member Susan Duval, and then to Kay Hatch and Jimmy Lodato. Photos were taken of the newly sworn board members together with Judge Ruppe and Stratton. The board members were permitted to take photos with family members.
Stratton asked for a moment of silence to thank our veterans and in the spirit of Thanksgiving. He led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Item #3351 – Adoption of the Agenda. Stratton asked for a motion to adopt the agenda, which Duval made, and Prescott seconded. The agenda was approved 5-0.
Item #3352 – Election of Chairperson. Stratton asked for nominations. Duval nominated Prescott. Prescott declined and instead asked to nominate Duval, who has been nominated previously. She felt Duval’s experience would be invaluable. While Duval hesitated to accept the nomination, some in the audience applauded her. She said she would appreciate some latitude and doesn’t like to run meetings, preferring her position on the side.
No other nominees were offered, and Stratton asked for a motion to close the nominations and to vote to approve Duval as the chairperson, for parliamentary reasons. Hatch made the motion and Guadagnino seconded. The motion carried unanimously.
The meeting recessed to change nameplates and seats. When it resumed, Duval called the meeting back to order.
Item #3353 – Election of Vice Chairperson. Duval asked for nominations. Hatch nominated Prescott. Lodato nominated Guadagnino. Each member was polled for his or her vote. There were three votes for Prescott: Hatch, Duval and Prescott Hatch voted for Prescott. Lodato and Guadagnino did not vote, as they were in the minority, but congratulated Prescott.
Item #3354 – Approval of the schedule of upcoming meetings through November 2019. Due to technical issues, the members were polled. The schedule was approved 5-0.
Item #3355 – Committee Designations. There are more than two dozen positions the board members fill, including alternates, and the members discussed their preferences. Stratton recommended having one board member represent a pillar of the Strategic Plan.
• Guadagnino – Parent Academy Advisory Committee, Anti-Bullying Committee, CTE Advisory Committee, Hernando County Education Foundation, Value Adjustment Board (alternate), Moton School Advisory Committee, Strategic Plan Pillar (People)
• Lodato – Legislative Committee, Value Adjustment Board, Half Cent Sales Tax Committee, two Strategic Plan Pillar (Facilities Operations), District Safe Schools Committee, Capital Funds Committee
• Hatch – Achievement Gap Committee, Anti-Bullying Committee, Strategic Plan Pillar (Communication and Community Engagement), Planning and Growth Committee, Small School District Council Consortium (alternate), Community Center Task Force (Fox Chapel Middle School)
• Prescott – Small School District Council Consortium, Legislative Committee Alternate, Gifted Advisory Committee, Truancy Committee, ESSS Advisory Committee, Strategic Plan Pillar (Student Achievement), Digital Classroom Committee, HCEF alternate
• Duval – Early Learning Coalition alternate, Staffing Plan Task Force, Calendar Committee
Matt Mulvaney was appointed by the School Board to serve on the Value Adjustment Board. Prescott stated he has agreed to serve.
Lodato remarked that the School Board has enjoyed a good relationship with the Board of County Commissioners. Since he will be serving on the Legislative Committee, Lodato requested to serve as a liaison to the BOCC by attending meetings and securing any available funding. He requested a second board member to participate, and Prescott volunteered.
Duval stated that she is aware of other committees that require board member involvement. Stratton agreed that the supplied list was not exhaustive, but assured Duval that the board would be invited to attend or serve on committees as they came up. He will bring a list of additional committees at a future meeting. Planning for the 2019-2020 school year begins in January 2019.
Duval asked for a motion to approve the list of committee assignments. Prescott made the motion and Guadagnino seconded, and the motion carried unanimously. Prescott asked if a non-assigned member could attend a meeting where another school board member is present. Duval explained that school board members are encouraged to attend various meetings, but only the school board member assigned to a specific committee can speak.
School Board Attorney Alfonso further explained that due to the Sunshine Law, the school board members cannot speak to one another during a public meeting or advisory committee, nor at any time outside of the school board meetings. For the benefit of new board members, Prescott stated that they could attend, but only observe. Guadagnino added that they could not speak about any topic which might be brought before the school board for a vote.
In the case of attending the BOCC meetings, Lodato asked if only Prescott or Lodato could speak. Alfonso stated that since the meetings are open, they could both present information, but not discuss anything between themselves. Any comments they make are their own, and not representative of the board as a whole.
Item #3350 – Appointment of the School Board Attorney
Duval asked for a motion to approve the appointment of the law firm of McClain, Alfonso, Meeker & Dunn to represent and advise the school board as general counsel. Lodato made the motion, and Guadagnino made the second. There was no discussion, but Lodato stated he has been excited working with the firm and would like the school board to continue with them. The motion was carried 5-0.
The organizational meeting recessed briefly to discuss matters under the Hernando County School Board Leasing Corporation. Since Prescott is the Vice Chair of the Leasing Corporation, she was given the gavel.
Item #3358 – Approval of the revised minutes from the 11/14/17 meeting. Guadagnino made the motion and Duval provided the second. The motion carried 5-0.
Item #3359 – Appointment of the School Board Chair to become Leasing Corporation President. Prescott asked for discussion, but there was none. The motion was made by Hatch and seconded by Prescott. The motion was approved 5-0.
Item #3360 – Appointment of the School Board Vice Chair to become Leasing Corporation Vice President. Prescott asked for a motion nominating herself, since she is Vice Chair. Guadagnino made the motion, and Hatch seconded. The motion carried 5-0.
Prescott advised that as Superintendent, Stratton would continue as secretary/treasurer of the Hernando County Leasing Corporation.
Item #3361 – Adjournment. Prescott asked for a motion to adjourn the short annual meeting, and Guadagnino made the motion. Duval made the second. The motion carried 5-0.
The School Board meeting resumed with Prescott returning the gavel to Duval.
Item #3363 – Citizen Input
Anthony Palmieri congratulated the newly elected and re-elected school board members, especially Duval, saying he expected great things from her. He wished each member a happy Thanksgiving and good luck.
Danielle Underwood congratulated the board members on their new adventure, and Lodato in particular. She stated her belief that Duval would be one of the best chairpersons the school board has had. “Never doubt yourself,” she said. “You are going to do awesome.” She welcomed Hatch and said that with the new board and Superintendent in place she expected the district would see some welcome changes. She shared a message from parents. “Please don’t disappoint the desperate parents looking for our schools to be fixed.”
Guadagnino wished everyone good luck and said he was looking forward to Duval’s leadership.
Lodato thanked the public for attending. He stated the current board membership means that the board will move in a positive direction. His goal is to make positive changes particularly for students and teachers. He mentioned some interests include safety and expansion of the vocational school program.
Hatch stated she was grateful and humbled to be sitting with the board. She said she knows there are critical issues to be addressed. She thanked the public and asked for their prayers.
Prescott welcomed the new board members and Duval on her position as board Chair. She thanked the public for attending and stated that community support is substantial. Prescott said she was looking forward to the coming year and cautioned Lodato and Hatch to take note as the last two years have gone by quickly.
Student Representative Ryan Bradley welcomed the new members also, and especially Duval. “I’m really glad you’re here and I know you’ll make the students proud,” she said. Students look up to her, Bradley added, and they know that Duval wants the best for them.
Duval expressed her thanks to the board for the opportunity to serve as Chair. While there are procedural rules, she said, she likes things to be less formal. Duval stated she would do her best for teachers, staff and students of the school district and hopes to provide good leadership.
Stratton expressed his wishes for students to have a relaxing time with their families over the holiday break. He advised that on 11/19/18 a truck filled with school supplies was sent to Bay County to help schools in the area affected by Hurricane Michael. “Impressive,” he said. “What the schools and our community brought forward in terms of supplies was just incredibly impressive.” A video showing the truck can be found on the school district website.
Regarding the new school board, Stratton said, “I feel we are poised for greatness.” With each board member representing a Pillar of the Strategic Plan, Stratton states he will discuss what he needs from the board members at a future meeting.
The next meeting is scheduled for 12/11/18.