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HomeLocal & StateMeet the Candidates: School Board District 5 - Aug. 23 Primary

Meet the Candidates: School Board District 5 – Aug. 23 Primary

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All School Board candidates will appear on all three ballot types: Nonpartisan, Democrat and Republican.
All voters in the county vote for candidates from a single district. If a single candidate does not receive more than 50% of the vote in the primary, then the top two vote-getters will run off in the Nov. 8 election.
Each candidate was given the opportunity to provide a 150-word bio and respond to our questions within 850 words. We had several community members submit questions for school board candidates and candidates were instructed to choose one question to answer from the public.

Thank you to the candidates for providing a bio and answering our questions.

MONTY FLOYD

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BIO:
My name is Monty Floyd, district 5 candidate Hernando County School Board. I’m a homeschool father of 3, my wife and I raise dairy cows and mini donkeys in Brooksville, and I’m a professional in higher education with 20 years of experience as an administrator and auditor. I’m running to restore accountability and to clean up our woke and our broke school system. Vote for me, Monty Floyd, on August 23rd.

QUESTIONS FROM HERNANDO SUN:

Please describe the three top issues facing the school district and how you would address them.

Given the dumpster fire that is the Hernando County School District today, it is very difficult to pick just three. We have a pile of major issues that have been neglected by our sitting board and their administrators for so long, that each of the issues plaguing our District today has become critical and needs immediate attention.

So, with that said, the top three major issues facing our Hernando County schools today in my book consist of the total top-down lack of institutional accountability within the district, the ongoing efforts by those currently on the board to indoctrinate and groom our children, and last but not least the disruptive safety and behavioral issues we are encountering districtwide.

Please note that staff retention, school overcrowding, transportation, the budget, and a wide range of other issues can be consolidated under the institutional accountability umbrella.

Do you see any areas where the school district needs to increase funding?  How could this be paid for?

Yes, I believe that there are many issues where funding needs to be increased, and just as many where funding needs to be decreased if not eliminated. This ties in with our current budget issues where our sitting School Board is blowing through our tax dollars like drunken sailors. Our current School Board has wasted millions on pointless pork barrel items of the teachers’ unions and special interest groups.

If you are in favor of decreasing the budget, how do you pay for obligated salary increases, cost of living increases, and other inflationary costs?

Currently, our budget is roughly around 300 million dollars, and the Hernando County School District consumes roughly 40% of our tax money as taxpayers. Sadly, our hard-earned tax dollars disappear into the black hole that is the HCSD budget. As stated above, a lot of our tax revenue is wasted by the School Board on pet projects of the unions and special interest groups, as well as plain old-fashioned bloat and waste.

Please describe up to three projects that are most important to the school district and why?

As stated above, we have a lot of projects and areas that need immediate attention. Our current Board has horribly neglected our District.

Presently the most important project in my view would be ensuring that we have a functional transportation system. For the past school year, our District has had a barely operational busing system so that would be a top priority project of mine to address.

Another critical area that I have covered already is school safety which includes not only purchasing new equipment, and upgrading existing facilities, but evaluating existing District policies. A recent issue that is very troubling to me has been the lack of oversight as to who is allowed on school property. We presently have an issue in our District with this policy among others.

Lastly, now that the FSA is gone, I believe that our District needs to lead the way toward bringing back our vocational programs that were cut, reduced, or eliminated to make room for test prep related to the FSA over the past three decades. While we still have a few of these legacy vocational programs such as shop and FFA in our District, I believe that they need to be restored to their pre-FSA districtwide status.

Do you support eliminating teacher training and student educational tools that use social-emotional learning, critical race theory, unconscious bias, and equity training?   

Yes. If elected I will remove any training, educational tools, curriculum, policy, committee, position, or procedure that seeks to indoctrinate or groom our children with this woke insanity.

Please explain some of the strategies you support or disagree with for closing the achievement gap? 

In our District, we can’t discuss what in-depth strategies we can take to close the achievement gap given the serious overcrowding and teacher/staff retention issues we are suffering from today. According to every think tank and school of thought regarding the achievement gap, eliminating overcrowding, ensuring that we have manageable class sizes, and keeping turnover among staff, especially critical staff, low is always the first step.

If elected to the Board I will move to address the overcrowding issues in our District by tapping into the previously discussed unused funding and by getting a handle on our budget. Together with these unused funds and a functional budget, I will move to expand the size of existing campuses, as well as work with my fellow Board members to responsibly and economically expand the size of our District’s facilities so that we can quickly close this gap.

Do you feel that the school board’s COVID-19 response was appropriate?  In hindsight, what changes would you make?

Simply put, no. I believe that the actions of those currently on our Board to impose a mask mandate on our children, our teachers, staff, parents, and members of our community in direct defiance of Governor DeSantis and the Florida Surgeon General, were criminal. I believe the current school board was entirely motivated by political motivations rather than actual science, which has proven that cloth and paper masks are not effective at all towards protecting anyone from COVID-19, let alone children. This is why I showed up to the very next Board meeting in a full biohazard suit. By taking the bold step to wear the suit, I intended to mock the Board over the fact that the only effective measure according to the CDC at the time, to safeguard against COVID-19 remained a self-contained respirator or biohazard suit.

———————–

LARA DEDMON

BIO:
I’m a mom of twins and wife of a school teacher. My husband and I have lived in Brooksville for the last 19 years. I’m a christian and a conservative. I’m a Speech Language Pathologist and I own a small Speech Therapy business. I’ve worked in this community, helping 100’s of children increase their literacy skills, focusing on teaching reading and spelling for the last 14 years.
Prior to working with children, I worked in nursing homes and have had the position of a Rehab. Director. Whether working with children or the elderly, I’ve learned how to respectfully communicate with all involved in the care of those in need in order to improve their lives.
My educational and experiential knowledge as well as my passion for working with and protecting the minds and hearts of children is what makes me the right choice for our Hernando County School Board.

QUESTIONS FROM HERNANDO SUN:

Please describe the three top issues facing the school district and how you would address them.
Literacy – We need to provide:
– Community/parent education regarding the importance of working with and development of phonic skills starting in infancy.
– Proper language screenings of all children for language and specifically any deficits in phonics/auditory processing skills in our free VPK programs
– Formal testing for those who didn’t pass the screening.
– Immediate intervention and parent education for children with poor phonics skills. This intervention should be provided with 1:1 teaching, with trained individuals. Either a Speech Therapist, reading specialist, tutor or trained volunteers from the community . – Proper remedial programs for students who continue to be challenged academically.
Curriculum/Teaching – I would be involved with the schools in our county, keeping in communication with principals and teachers to make sure that the curriculum within our childrens’ classes does not have divisive language woven into the framework. We need to make sure that the language is neutral and doesn’t sway toward any political or social bias “of the day”. It should just be instructional regarding the subject, nothing more.
Teachers/staffing – Develop a plan to provide opportunities for local college students going for bachelor degrees to get part of their schooling paid for with a work study type program. Possibly through a grant program. Providing “para” or substitute teaching services while they’re in college to provide financial assistance for them and much needed staff help for our public schools. I don’t have all the details on how this would work, but it’s an idea and something to build on.

Do you see any areas where the school district needs to increase funding? How could this be paid for?
Bus drivers, mechanics, substitute teachers and paras. The staff I’ve talked to while campaigning have told me that much of this staff have resigned due to job frustrations as well as low pay. I know there’s been a recent increase in pay for bus drivers and conversations about future pay raises for substitutes. But, looking toward retention of staff, I would have a conversation with all these entities to discover their concerns within their jobs beyond the pay. Funding for potential pay increases would have to be determined after reviewing the financials with the other school board members.

Do you see any areas where funding/the budget can be cut?
– Not at present.

If you are in favor of decreasing the budget, how do you pay for obligated salary increases, cost of living increases, and other inflationary costs?
– I’m not….

Please describe up to three projects that are most important to the school district and why? – VoTech School: I believe this is a wonderful carry over program for kids that don’t fit the mold of a 4 year college kiddo. These smart kids that want and/or need to follow a different direction will have an opportunity to hone those skills that will help them succeed in their lives. This is a true marriage of different types of “learning” styles coming together with opportunity in doing that “blue collar” work that is such an honorable calling.
– ESE: In listening to the concerns of teachers and parents, I believe there needs to be more staff education (and possibly parent education) regarding the specific type of care and overall education style of these children within our school system. There also needs to be a second look at how the funds are dispersed within this program in order to provide these children with all that they need.

Do you support eliminating teacher training and student educational tools that use social-emotional learning, critical race theory, unconscious bias, and equity training?
– Yes

Please explain some of the strategies you support or disagree with for closing the achievement gap?
– There are challenges that some children face due to so many issues in their young lives that can lead to limited opportunities…but that is not the ultimate determinant of a child’s academic potential…it’s just a part of the multi-faceted person they are.
– Children who struggle need more time with a teacher (or para) and there needs to be time taken to understand that child’s learning style. There are all different types of learners (for example: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading/writing) – their differences in how God created them is so important in reaching them and helping them. This may take time initially for training of teachers, but in the end, it should truly help bridge that gap.
– This along with education of the parents regarding carry over skills they can work on at home is how to help children achieve their full personal potential.

Do you feel that the school board’s COVID-19 response was appropriate? In hindsight, what changes would you make?
– Some provisional decisions like the temporary school shutdowns were appropriate. This gave the kids protection in a global crisis. But, specific to the masks, I think they should have followed Gov. Desantis’ decision and given the choice to the parents once they were allowed to do so.

QUESTION FROM THE PUBLIC:

Why should the parents, teachers, and staff of Hernando County support you? What do you have to offer that the other candidates do not?

I have a background in education/teaching from my speech therapy background with language skills and reading and spelling and writing skills and teaching homeschool groups. I have 14+ years of experience working with parents, listening to them and helping them, help their children succeed.
I also have a background as a Rehab Director in a nursing home here in Florida. I was part of a team of department heads, working together daily to solve problems, balance budgets while also treating patients in order to improve the lives of our patients.
Politics and egos can get in the way when working on a team. Making sure to do my research and make my decisions based on “what is in the best interest of the patient or child” is what I have done my whole career and is what I will continue to do if elected to HCSB.

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PAM EVERETT

BIO:
Pam Everett has lived in Hernando County for 33 years, her children and grandchildren have attended the district schools, with 2 grandchildren currently utilizing the FLVS. Pam is active in the school advocating alongside parents participating in IEP/504 meetings to close the education gaps and get the supports needed to make each students successful. Pam is the extra voice for students, parents and staff. Pam has been a volunteer bus attendant from January to end of school. Pam is also a member of the School District Communicator, Parent Academy, PTO and SAC at 2 elementary schools. Pam was one of the 14 parents in the state who sued the DOE and each school district they resided litigating against the FSA/FCAT.
Pam feels now is the time to put the knowledge she gained to work for Hernando County Schools. Pam wants to be the voice that takes a stand for our students, parents, teachers and community.

QUESTIONS FROM HERNANDO SUN:

Please describe the three top issues facing the school district and how you would address them.
Teacher/substitutes, Closing the educational gap, Busing
Hiring and retaining of qualified teacher there needs to be in place a competitive salary based on years of experience and certifications. Keeping with the cost of inflation figured in to yearly pay increases. We are also expecting our substitute teacher to cover the same classrooms as certified teachers, with the same expectations. To fill the demand wages must include benefits to attract the ones qualified to sub for the teacher. I would also request a cost analysis on paying a 3rd party for substitutes vs the employment through the Districts HR Department.
Reading being the largest of educational gaps in the classrooms. Teachers need to teach students at the level they read even if they are below the current grade level and increase the level by staying on course with interventions in place. We offer MTSS which helps to close the gap. Offering support in small groups in tier 2, tier 3 being the greatest need. These students need more 1:1 help and offer more frequently during the week. Once the 3rd grade is reached gains are harder to reach. We need to hire adequate support staff to assist these students and teachers, as to not pull the teacher from the remainder of the classroom instruction. Tier 3 usually leads to specialized teaching where IEPs come in to the students educational plan. These are now binding documents that must be followed. Teachers with more than one student makes it nearly impossible to close these educational gaps, support is a must. Hiring is necessary of added support, whether in the classroom or as a pull-out. Wages must meet the demand.
Hiring qualified drivers and mechanics, offering a competitive wage to attract and retain. Purchasing of buses to meet the demand of students riding the buses. Keeping the reality of seat size in comparison to the average student width. 3 to a seat is not reality, regardless of what DOE states. To avoid over crowding. Rezoning school boundaries to balance student population. Plotting each stop to have an effective time study of each route to provide adequate pick up, drop off and school arrival time. Offering school of choice to open placement with parents responsible for their students transportation when out of zone.

Do you see any areas where the school district needs to increase funding? How could this be paid for?
Increased funding to support the ESE Dept.
Keeping all allotted money in the department and stop rolling it into the general fund. Applying for available grants.
Many areas are in need of increases but before change can happen all areas of funding must be looked at thoroughly with an outside audit that is chosen by the board to remove that auditor the District has have become familiar/comfortable with.
Paid through the current funding used for audits.
Textbooks in the classrooms for our core classes such as English, math, history, science.
Paid from funds used on wasteful programs such as IREADY, or Edgenuity. We need to go back to the basics especially in the elementary grade. Hands on, with more teacher, student interaction.

Do you see any areas where funding/the budget can be cut?
If you are in favor of decreasing the budget, how do you pay for obligated salary increases, cost of living increases, and other inflationary costs?
Yes. Start with the overinflated salaries, and removing needless positions that are at the District Office. (answered above)

Please describe up to three projects that are most important to the school district and why?
Infrastructure
With growth, planning and adding additions on to existing schools. Utilizing property with room for growth.
Utilizing ½ cent funds
Repairing schools in need.
Reduce wasteful spending
Being frugal with spending, be held accountable and transparent

Do you support eliminating teacher training and student educational tools that use social-emotional learning, critical race theory, unconscious bias, and equity training?
Most definitely. There is no place in our schools for this to happen.

Please explain some of the strategies you support or disagree with for closing the achievement gap?
Adding certified teachers to adequately teach to the EBD students at all grade levels vs Edgenuity.
Disagree with current IEP ratio per teacher, sets both teacher and student up to fail at closing the gap. (answered above)

Do you feel that the school board’s COVID-19 response was appropriate? In hindsight, what changes would you make?
Yes for bringing the education to the students. Yes to precautions until they over stepped the line wanting to co-parent. The choice of parents making the ultimate decision of their Childs health, is the parent. They made a policy going against the Governor until an executive order was set in place.

QUESTION FROM THE PUBLIC:

Why should the parents, teachers, and staff of Hernando County support you? What do you have to offer that the other candidates do not?
First and foremost I am the only candidate that has been involved in the school system. Starting 33 years as a room mom, PTA and SAC member. Always being involved with the school. Then when the grandkids came I was even more involved if that is even possible. Taking a position as a Parent Liaison. That was when I seen things in our system from a different prospective. It all started with being a proctor for the FSA. When funding was cut for the position I branched out against the FSA/FCAT joining the opt-out movement. Helping parents to opt-out of standardized test and to stop the teaching to a test with no educational value and to not discuss the test with parents.. Leading me to join 13 parents across the state in a lawsuit to stop standardized testing. I fought that took us parents all the to the Supreme Court and 6 1/2 years of continual battle against the test. As I helped parents opt-out I also began helping parents to close the Childs educational gap and help get the needed supports. Helping parents get those supports, becoming part of the decision making on IEP/504s. I am very active in being that support for our kids. Speaking out and attend many years of school board meetings. Being apart of helping and making change to better our children’s education.

——————
SUSAN DUVAL- incumbent

BIO:
I was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, and lived in Pinellas County until 1969. During that time, I attended public schools and graduated from Boca Ciega High School, St. Petersburg Junior College, and the University of South Florida. I moved to Hernando County in 1969 and began teaching at Brooksville Junior High School. In 1980, I transitioned into administration and with the exception of three years, worked as an administrator until I retired in 2014. Schools that I have worked at include Hernando High School, Powell Middle School, Central High School and F. W. Springstead High School. All three of my adult children attended and graduated from Hernando district schools.
I was elected to the School Board in 2014. It has been an honor to serve. I have always worked with diligence, responsibility, and integrity on behalf of all students, employees, and community.

QUESTIONS FROM HERNANDO SUN:

Please describe the three top issues facing the school district and how you would address them.

-Maintain financial accountability – utilize board workshops and oversight committees

-Staffing for instructional and non instructional positions – continue use of recruitment tools and social media outreach

-Impact of major housing developments and the resulting growth of student population – continue to work with collaborative meetings between county and district for planning and growth

Do you see any areas where the school district needs to increase funding? How could this be paid for?

With the potential increase in students, school construction will be needed. The district may have to utilize a revenue source via bonds

Do you see any areas where funding/the budget can be cut?

At this time, every aspect of the budget is reviewed on a continual basis. Personnel costs are the largest part of the budget and employees need a fair compensation for the work that is done each day

Please describe up to three projects that are most important to the school district and why?

– Continue to review and expand the career and technical opportunities for current students and adults

– Ensuring that the public continues to support the renewal of the half cent sales tax

– Continue to support the reading and math strategies/programs that have been implemented

Do you support eliminating teacher training and student educational tools that use social-emotional learning, critical race theory, unconscious bias, and equity training?

Teachers need the tools and resources to successfully meet the academic needs of students. The state follows all state standards with the curriculum

Please explain some of the strategies you support or disagree with for closing the achievement gap?

I support the research based strategies that will help teachers as they work will ALL students to improve academic growth

Do you feel that the school board’s COVID-19 response was appropriate? In hindsight, what changes would you make?

The Board followed the procedures recommended by the health dept and other medical professionals. My concern was that it was important to follow health protocols to keep all students and staff as safe as possible

QUESTION FROM THE PUBLIC:

What will you do to address the teacher shortage in Hernando County?

– Perhaps the Board may need to propose reinstating a full-time recruiter position. In addition, review the budget for possible increases in pay for our veteran employees

Rocco Maglio
Rocco Maglio
Rocco Maglio is a co-founder of the Hernando Sun
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