Notes & Articles from the Jan. 8, 2019 Hernando School Board meeting
by Kathryn Dentato
Student Representative to the Board
Ryan Bradley, student at Springstead High School, shared a slide show presentation of upcoming events. Upcoming events are included below.
Chocochatti – Locomo Skate Night fundraiser on 01/31/19
Parrott – Students are rewarded with PAW bucks for bringing in box tops
Winding Waters – Literacy Week (01/28/19 – 01/31/19) with special events planned
Field trips: SeaWorld (7th grade, 01/31/19)
100th Day of School Celebration (Kindergarten, 01/28/19)
Bradley invited board members to attend the upcoming delegate meetings: 02/13/19 (10 am – noon at Winding Waters High School) and 03/28/19 (1-3 pm at Parrott Middle School)
Approval of Minutes from 12/11/18
Duval asked for a motion to approve the minutes from the three meetings held on 12/11/18. Kay Hatch made the motion and Jimmy Lodato seconded. The minutes were approved with a 5-0 vote.
Citizens Input (Action Items)
Please see the article:
Adoption of Consent Agenda
Duval asked board members for items they wished to pull for additional discussion. Nothing was removed. Guadagnino made the motion to approve the consent agenda. Lodato seconded. The consent agenda was approved 5-0.
1. 3503 : Approval of Personnel Recommendations
All Other Academic Services Division Agenda Items
2. 3504 : Approve the Affiliation Agreement Between Hernando HMA, LLC D/B/A: Bayfront Health Spring Hill and the Hernando County School Board
3. 3507 : Approve the Affiliation Agreement Between Hernando HMA, LLC D/B/A: Bayfront Health Brooksville and the Hernando County School Board
4. 3511 : Approve Out of State Field Trip for NCTHS Digital Video Production to Seattle, Washington to Attend the Student Television Network National Convention
All Other Business Services Division Agenda Items
5. 3506 : Approval of Interim Unaudited Financial Statements for the Month Ending October 31, 2018
6. 3523 : Approval of Interim Unaudited Financial Statements for the Month Ending November 30, 2018
All Other Support Operations Division Agenda Items
7. 3510 : Approve the Bell Times for the 2019-2020 School Year
All Other Purchase Order/Bid Agenda Items
8. 3512 : Approve the Discontinuation of the Edulog Field Trip Module
All Other School Board Agenda Items
9. 3508 : Revision to the School Board Meeting Calendar
Action Item - #3505 – Authorization for direct negotiation with John Stratton for the position of superintendent
The board’s discussion was published Jan. 18, 2019. The vote was 4-1 in favor of negotiating with Stratton, with Prescott voting for the interview process. Duval, as board chair, will negotiate with Stratton and asked for citizens and staff to trust her. You may review the article online:
Board attorney Dennis Alfonso explained that he will assist Duval with the contract negotiation. The process will not be public (as in the entire board meeting with Stratton), but that he will share general information with each board member and receive input on terms they would like to include that he will share with Duval. Once the negotiation has reached the point where the contract is ready for approval, it will be placed on the agenda for a vote.
Citizen Input (General Topics)
Mark Cochrane recently transferred from Polk County Schools to Hernando County Schools in the transportation department. He suggested the option of having some pay withheld through the school year so the transportation employees could be paid through the summer. Cochrane said this might help reduce turnover. The option could be voluntary.
Stratton said the district will contact him with the reasons why the transportation department is not on a 12-month salary program.
Teacher Recruitment and Retention
Charity Simpson was concerned by comments at the last board meeting regarding teacher retention. With her own budget, Simpson said she must make choices and focus on what is essential. District essentials include teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators. She asked for the district to stop spending money on outside trainings as the district already has teachers who are excellent mentors and leaders. Because trust is built, learning is more likely to occur.
To address the teacher shortage, Simpson said that the State’s policies should be changed. District mandates and additional tasks are also causing issues for teachers in the classroom. Teachers leave the profession for various reasons, she said, and lack of respect is as much a problem as lack of adequate pay. Simpson recommended surveying teachers and having the district act on items it can control by reviewing policies “that are driving teachers away.”
Stratton suggested that Simpson meet with Hernando Classroom Teacher’s Association president, Vince La Borante. A committee is being formed to discuss teacher recruitment and retention. He said they need to know why teachers leave. Solution-oriented ideas are welcome, he said, so they can reduce the vacancies.
Vince La Borante spoke about teacher recruitment and retention problems, especially since there are still 30-40 open instructional positions. He referred to the “Best and Brightest,” which La Borante says causes disharmony.
(The $6,000 Florida Best and Brightest Scholarship Program is described in F.S. 1012.731: “…it is the intent of the Legislature to designate teachers who have achieved high academic standards during their own education as Florida’s best and brightest teacher scholars.”)
La Borante addressed Guadagnino, saying that colleges are seeing 40% fewer students enroll in education programs. The University of West Florida closed the School of Education because of the decline in enrollment, he said. La Borante remarked that there are several reasons for the lack of teachers, among them Senate Bill 736 (relating to contracts and retirement contributions) and No Child Left Behind.
“Power and money have replaced historical best classroom practices, and in doing so have systematically declined and (made) schools less productive,” he said. La Borante shared stressors teachers experience:
- Competitive evaluations
- Overwork and mandated outcomes
- School safety
- Too many students per class
- Inability to access online resources, or lack of materials
- Assignments with no curriculum materials
He commended Stratton for the decision to revise the mentoring program and to create a committee to discuss ways to increase retention and recruitment.
Patricia Greenwood told Guadagnino “students are the reason most of us get up in the mornings.” The positive comments about Stratton, she said, were mainly from administrators, not teachers. For them, things have not changed much, she said, as that will require a change in the district’s mindset. Greenwood complimented Stratton for being “hands on” at a school when he visited.
Alfonso shared the time of the closed workshop session, as well as the attendees.
School Board Comments
Gus Guadagnino – From February - April, the Hernando County Education Foundation (HCEF) will have its annual campaign to raise $100,000. The community event in April will feature the “Battle of the Bands” competition. He listed available scholarships. Details are at www.hernandoeducationfoundation.org under the scholarships tab. Teacher of the Year will be announced 01/18/19. Tools 4 Schools information is on the website. A new license plate to support education is available.
Jimmy Lodato thanked those in the audience who attended and spoke. Though different viewpoints were represented, Lodato recommended coming together and being united. He assured them that the board would hold Stratton accountable. He spoke to La Borante about the concerns raised about Tallahassee. “I’m sad about the way that you (educators) have been treated,” he said. “But we’re going to make it better.” Lodato said Stratton has already been responsive. Lodato offered to be available to anyone who calls him with concerns.
Kay Hatch believes that they all share the same goal. The next task is to decide how to proceed so the they can meet the best interests of students, teachers and community.
Linda Prescott visited Winter Wonderland events at several schools. She thanked them for the time and effort involved in the preparation. Though Prescott cast the only “no” vote, she congratulated Stratton and looks forward to working with him.
Ryan Bradley thanked staff and community members for their support of students. She said she takes her position as student representative seriously and thanked the teachers for putting students first.
Susan Duval said she was encouraged by the number of people who come to speak at school board meetings. There is no need to fear retribution and teachers and staff should feel free to express concerns, complaints, or compliments.
“Just be civil,” she requested. “This has to be an open dialogue. This has to be free. This has to be from the heart because you are all passionate about what you do.”
Duval encouraged more participation. “You need to make us think about what we are doing and how we are doing things.”
John Stratton complimented Central High School’s Jennifer Dodson for being the first Bay News 9 “A+ Teacher”. Dodson was nominated by a student for this honor.
Stratton announced that all school social worker positions have been filled. With mental health an important aspect in education, having 12 social workers in the district will help meet those needs.
Deltona Elementary’s Winter Wonderland display impressed Stratton. He said he was “blown away” by the amount of writing and also enjoyed the fake snow.
Addressing the decision to negotiate a contract with him, Stratton said he was humbled by those who came to make comments, both for and against the negotiation. He promised to do his best for everyone involved – teachers, students, and parents. Stratton encouraged teachers to approach their principals, as some already have. “We are listening,” he said of the school board and district staff. “Things don’t happen overnight…but the discussion should be there.”
He said the board can speak to any of the district staff without clearing it with Stratton first. As professionals, Stratton trusts that they are doing their jobs. He said he looks forward to receiving feedback.