Notes from the Oct. 23, 2018 Hernando County School Board Meeting.
by KATHRYN DENTATO
HERNANDO SUN WRITER
The meeting opened honoring Mark Johnson and Beth Narverud for their service on the school board. It was the final meeting of their elected terms.
Students from Deltona Elementary School led the Pledge of Allegiance and introduced themselves to the school board afterward. Superintendent John Stratton thanked the students and told them to wave during his visit planned for Nov. 7, 2018.
School Board Chair Mark Johnson announced the topics discussed during the workshop held earlier in the day: the legislative platform and priorities, tentative approval of the control choice plan for 2019-2020, the first quarter budget update, and information on the comprehensive reading plan. The video can be accessed via the Hernando County School Board website.
Prior to the Consent Agenda approval, attorney Denis Alfonso clarified one item from the Consent Agenda: #3364 from the 10/09 regular Board meeting was really an award of a new bid. He also explained several items that were either pulled from the Consent Agenda for discussion or should have been included in the general counsel section: # 3397 (Approval of Personnel Recommendations), #3365 (Approve Renewing a bid to Central Poly Corporation for the purchase of trash can and compact liners), #3497 (which was actually #3407).
Ms. Narverud made the motion to accept the changes to the consent agenda and Ms. Prescott seconded the motion. Board Member Gus Guadagnino was absent, but the remaining members all voted yes to approve the changes.
Ryan Bradley, the Student Representative to the School Board, was absent. Riley Wilson and Sharlee Suarez, Junior Delegates from Springstead High School shared the following:
• A suggestion box will be placed in central locations at every school to allow students to share suggestions with Ryan.
• There will be a poster contest to promote awareness of bullying. Delegates also plan to expand the anti-bullying program already in effect at Hernando High School.
• Committees will meet to discuss ways to make the transition to middle and high school easier for 5th and 8th grade students. Results will be shared at the next Board meeting.
Two presentations were made.
1. Jill Kolasa, Supervisor of Exceptional Student Support Services introduced Bullying Prevention Week/Acts of Kindness Week – November 12-16, 2018. Ms. Duval made the motion and Ms. Narverud seconded the motion. The motion carried with four “yes” votes. (Additionally, School Superintendent Mr. Stratton clarified that the district did not proclaim a separate awareness week for Dyslexia as the State of Florida dedicated the entire month of October to all disabilities. Mr. Johnson stated that Dyslexia was also discussed that afternoon during explanation of the comprehensive reading plan.)
2. Tammy Brinker, Executive Director of the Hernando County Education Foundation, shared donations requiring Board approval. Donations total: $15,424.20
Donations to schools/programs
Jose Mendoza - $1,000 to the Parent Academy Community Center at Fox Chapel Middle School
Hernando County BOCC - $3,186.92 to Eastside Elementary to be used for center beautification
Rosalie Bennett, CAT5 Hurricane Screens - $210 to Fox Chapel Middle School to assist the football players with the pay to play fee
Chipotle raised $145.78 for Adult Education
Ben Prescott, AXA Equitable – $250 to Academic Services for a special funding request
Amanda Coppedge - $50 each to two classrooms at Challenger K8
Nicole Gregoire - $25 to Brandon Doyle’s classroom at Springstead HS
Jane Fuller - $100 to Nature Coast HS
Jamie Garrett - $25 each to two classrooms at Chocachatti Elementary
Amy Passarello - $25 to Chocachatti Elementary
Nature Coast’s Digital Video Production Program - $2,779 was received and awarded a matching donation from the HCEF.
Moton Elementary received 130 8-in tablets (valued at $6,260)
Special funding requests
$387.50 to Nature Coast’s Chef Michael Rechtor for food provided during the 09/13/18 college fair
$260 each to three Exceptional Support Services staff to attend the annual Florida Association of School Social Workers Conference
$100 to Academic Support Services customer service training
Ms. Narverud made the motion to approve the donations and Ms. Prescott seconded the motion. The donations were approved by all four members present.
Ms. Brinker announced the dates for the first and second rounds of funding requests. These can be found on the HCEF website under the tab labeled “GRANTS.” Nominations for non-instructional, school-related employee of the year are due and can be found at any school or district office or on the website. The celebration will be held on Feb. 2, 2019.
Brent Gaustad’s Retirement
Executive Director of Academic Services Gina Michalicka was welcomed to the podium to discuss an item that was not listed on the agenda. Moton Elementary School principal Brent Gaustad’s retirement date of 10/31/18 was no secret, but the presentation at the School Board meeting on 10/23/18 was.
Superintendent John Stratton said that Gaustad wore a continual smile from the time he announced his retirement. “If I could take two words and describe Brent Gaustad,” Stratton said, “And everybody will know this: energy is one. Brent does not stop moving. Period. Period. And I’m not sure he sleeps, but he doesn’t stop moving, I’m sure, in his sleep. And the other is passion, Brent. I’ve seen you apply passion at the middle school, at Parrott when you were there. You definitely bleed purple and you bled the same purple over at Moton. And I appreciate that immensely. Working beside you and with you, Brent, it’s been great. You never lack a conversation and I certainly appreciate that. And we’re going to miss you and you can come back and volunteer any time you want, Brent. And keep those connections because I know you have a way of acquiring furniture, TVs, donations – definitely a skill set there that we’re going to miss.”
Board Chair Mark Johnson expressed that he was impressed with a science experiment Gaustad demonstrated using a phone, making the chemical compound salt appear in 3D.
Ms. Michalicka read a tribute to Gaustad, saying, “His 31 years is equal to about 90 for the rest of us. Brent’s energy is infectious and few of us can keep up.” She described Gaustad’s history with Hernando County Schools which began in 1988 at Hernando High School. In addition to teaching, over the years he left an impact as a coach of football, track, weightlifting, and softball.
Michalicka remarked that Gaustad was a logical choice for leadership, and for 11 years has been an administrator. He served as assistant principal at Springstead and Hernando High Schools, and then as principal at Parrott Middle and most recently at Moton Elementary. She quoted Gaustad as saying, “Those are my people,” when referring to his wearing purple and gold every spirit Friday, except when he was at Springstead.
But the numbers and places are just one part of what make Gaustad memorable, she said. It is his relationships with staff and students that show his impact. “He has been part of our school family for a long time and we will miss his boundless energy and dedication. But we also trust that his colleagues, parents, and students will continue to share stories about Brent for years to come. And maybe that is the greatest legacy of any wonderful educator: to be remembered.”
Gaustad addressed the school board members and the audience, thanking his family first for their sacrifice over the past 10 months so he could help students at Moton Elementary. He thanked board member Susan Duval, who was principal at Springstead when he transferred there, for the things she taught him about leadership and the focus she helped him find. He recalled Duval’s words, “If it’s good for the kids, you keep your eyes on that.”
Social media can be both positive and negative. Gaustad said it showed him how many lives are impacted by decisions made by school leadership or comments made to students, and it was a bit overwhelming. It also made him wonder if he was making the right decision. “But it’s time,” he said. “It’s time for my family. It’s time for me.” Gaustad said he was not sure what his next step will be but will take the next month off to rest and enjoy his family.
School board chair Mark Johnson invited any of Gaustad’s colleagues to pose with him for pictures.
Approval of Minutes
#3425 – Approval of the Minutes from the 10/03/18 appeal hearing regarding Dr. Romano’s removal from her position as superintendent, and the school board’s 10/09/18 meetings.
Ms. Narverud moved to approve the minutes, and Ms. Prescott seconded. The motion passed 4-0, as Mr. Guadagnino was absent.
Public Hearing Items
#3405 – This item was a public hearing to give final approval of the 2018-2019 HCSD site-based Administration Evaluation Manual.
No one from the public came forward to discuss this item. Ms. Narverud moved to approve the item, and Ms. Prescott seconded. The motion passed 4-0.
#3406 – This item was a public hearing to give final approval of the 2018-2019 HCSD Evaluation Manual for Instructional Personnel.
No one from the public came forward to discuss this item. Ms. Narverud moved to approve the item, and Ms. Prescott seconded. The motion passed 4-0.
Citizen Input on Agenda Items – No green forms were collected to indicate that anyone wanted to discuss an agenda item. Ms. Narverud moved to approve the consent agenda, and Ms. Prescott seconded. The motion passed 4-0.
ADOPTION OF CONSENT AGENDA
ITEMS ON CONSENT AGENDA (ADOPTED)
3401 : Approve Out-of-State Travel for Hernando County School District Representatives to Attend the Learning Forward 2018 Annual Conference in Dallas, TX, December 2-5, 2018
3417 : Approval of the 2018-19 School Improvement Plans
3388 : Accept the Audit of Gulf Coast Academy of Science & Technology for Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2018
3389 : Accept the Audit of Gulf Coast Middle School for Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2018
3390 : Accept the Audit of BEST Academy for Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2018
3392 : Approve Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Budget Amendment No. 1 for Quarter Ending September 30, 2018
3398 : Accept the Internal Accounts Audit Report for Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2018
3402 : Approval of the Step Increase and Market Adjustment for Confidential and Professional/Technical/Supervisory Employees for 2018-2019
3404 : Ratify Changes to the Contract Between Hernando United School Workers (HUSW) and the Hernando County School Board
3408 : Approve the Deletion of Surplus Property from District Inventory Records
3421 : Approval of the Job Description Revision for Manager of Planning, Design and Construction.
All Other Purchase Order/Bid Agenda Items
3380 : Approve Renewal of Bid No. 16-405-01 RA RN - Fuel: Diesel & Gasoline, Unleaded to Multiple Vendors for the Procurement of Fuel and Authorize the Purchase of Goods on an as Needed Basis for an Estimated Annual Amount of $1,297,711.96
3395 : Approve Renewal of Bid No. 17-200-07 RN Promotional Products: Screen Printing, Embroidery Services and Custom Orders to Multiple Vendors and Authorize Purchases on an as Needed Basis for an Estimated Annual Spending of $300,000.00
3396 : Approve the Renewal for Software from Destination Knowledge and the Approval of a Purchase Order to Destination Knowledge for $144,715.00
3411 : Approve Piggybacking State of Florida, Florida Department of Education Bid No. ITB 2017-02 Type A, Type C and Type D School Buses and Optional Equipment to Sun State International Truck, LLC and Authorize the Purchase of Seven (7) International School Buses in the Amount of $792,638.00.
3424 : Award Bid No. 19-910-09 HVAC Equipment, Parts & Repair Services to Air Mechanical & Service Corp, Carrier Corporation, Climate Control Mechanical Services, and Tampa Bay System Sales Dba Tampa Bay Trane and Issue Purchase Orders as Needed for an Estimated Annual Amount of $500,000.00
All Other Superintendent Agenda Items
3409 : Approval of the 2018-2019 Florida Safe School Assessment Report
Items that were removed from the consent agenda:
#3365 – The item was removed in order to adjust/correct the bid number. ($78,000 to Central Poly Corp for trash can and compactor liners) Ms. Narverud moved to approve the item, and Ms. Duval seconded. The motion passed 4-0.
#3397 Approval of Personnel Recommendations – This item was removed due to an employee, Jason Buse, filing an appeal, so his name was removed from the list. The Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) will handle the appeal. Ms. Duval moved to approve the remainder of the personnel recommendations, and Ms. Narverud seconded. The motion passed 4-0.
#3407 – $50,000 Luxout Stage Drapes- Furnish and Install Stage Drapes- This item was to approve the renewal of the piggybacking bid with Duval County, and not a new bid. Ms. Narverud moved to approve the item, and Mr. Johnson seconded. The motion passed 4-0.
The Action Item – Approval of the 2018-2019 Legislative Platform and Priorities – was tabled.
Citizens were invited to speak on general topics by completing a pink form.
Sandra Badger requested follow up on a co-worker as she has not received any response from her complaint, which she characterized as a bullying/harassment incident. Superintendent Stratton asked her to meet with Ms. Michalicka.
Lisa M. asked about the reading plan discussed and gave her perspective as a teacher and a reading coach who returned to the classroom after the district removed coaches from individual schools. While coaches are effective, she felt that hiring more coaches when there are classrooms needing teachers was not the best choice for the district. Teachers are leaving for non-instructional positions, and currently 70 teaching positions are open. Why? What makes that more attractive than working with students? She believes it is because of the shift toward more data and tracking and away from focusing on students.
Ms. Prescott responded that as a retired educator, she receives the NEA magazine, and quoted: 93% of surveyed teachers reported they are under high stress. By 2020, reading teachers will be need more than 300 hours of training to receive the additional certification that is required. She agreed that this is a problem that legislators should address.
Danielle Underwood began by thanking Ms. Duval for her questions and concerns and noting that giving students the best chance to read is critical. “It’s sad that we are talking about money over our kids’ learning. Just sad,” she said. She spoke in favor of using the money designated for the iReady program (used for remedial intensive reading classes) to instead train teachers in multisensory explicit instruction. Ms. Underwood said that dyslexia, which is a specific learning disability, was not mentioned until the end of the discussion. She advocated learning more about dyslexia and implementing interventions which would help those students.
#3426 – Renewal of Mr. Alfonso’s contract as the attorney for the school board.
Ms. Narverud moved to approve the item, and Ms. Duval seconded. The motion passed 4-0.
#3420 – Discussion about Dr. Romano’s termination hearing from 10/03/18
The Board approved a letter on 06/26/18 outlining the reasons why Dr. Romano was being terminated from her position as Superintendent of Hernando County Schools.
Dr. Romano asked for a hearing, which was held 10/03/18. At the hearing, the Board received documents that supported the termination and rebuttal documents from Dr. Romano.
Attorneys submitted closing arguments on 10/10/18.
The item was placed on the agenda so the Board could provide a final ruling to uphold Dr. Romano’s termination or to reverse it. Ms. Narverud, Ms. Duval, and Ms. Prescott stated they reviewed all the documentation provided and agreed to uphold or affirm the termination. Mr. Johnson made no remarks. Ms. Narverud motioned to approve the motion and Ms. Duval seconded. The Board voted 4-0 to affirm the termination of Dr. Romano.
Well Wishes and final remarks from Beth Narverud and Mark Johnson
Since this was the last board meeting for Mr. Johnson and Ms. Narverud, Mr. Alfonso stated it had been a pleasure serving with them.
Ms. Duval thanked Mr. Johnson and Ms. Narverud for the past four years working together. While they did not always agree, she said that civility was of paramount importance to her. Being able to talk to one another even when you disagree is something that is needed in the current social climate. It was important to always move forward and she appreciated their conversations and kindness to her.
Ms. Prescott noted that it was a “challenge to develop a relationship with people that you really can’t talk to” (due to Florida’s Sunshine laws), but that both Ms. Narverud and Mr. Johnson were supportive. She hoped they would not forget about the school board members as they went off “to do great things,” and now they could talk.
Mr. Alfonso jokingly asked Ms. Prescott if they (Mr. Johnson and Ms. Narverud) would only get three minutes (the length of time a citizen can speak to the board on a single item).
Ms. Narverud thanked Mr. Alfonso for his guidance and the other board members in general. She specifically thanked Kelly Pogue “who worked tirelessly to keep us in line”. She thanked the community and Hernando County residents for the honor of serving them. Though this was her last meeting, Ms. Narverud stated she would continue to be involved to make Hernando County an “A” district.
Mr. Stratton thanked Ms. Narverud and Mr. Johnson for their time on the school board for the past four years. Although leadership styles differ, each member had the education of the county’s students’ best interest in mind. “Even in the midst of disagreement,” he said, “We don’t lose sight of that…We all want the same thing. How we get there, we may not agree. What we do, we may not agree, but the end result is what we’re all searching for.”
He stated that the position of school board member is very difficult, and thankless. Being unable to discuss matters among the members is hard. He appreciated their generosity and openness to him and hoped they appreciated his openness and honesty as well. On behalf of the District and board members, Mr. Stratton presented an individual plaque to both departing board members.
Mr. Johnson mentioned a few people by name before he read from prepared remarks. He stated he appreciated being part of a team that worked to earn a “B” rating for the District. The team included administrative, instructional, and support staff. His remarks included many things he is proud of during his time as a school board member:
- Working with Mr. Cooper’s class, which began when he was a candidate four years ago, including the Students’ Choice Awards for most inspirational teacher
- Living history lessons about World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, taught to students at Winding Waters by military veterans from Timber Pines
- The “Random Act of Paper,” where he showed up unannounced to present a ream of paper to a teacher in the classroom
- 3-D scan of the teacher that was made into a figure or bobblehead of the teacher
- Kindergarten students who were taught the art of the masters (in the style of 4 masters), who were then given acrylic paints and a canvas so they could paint in their own style
- Mrs. Santiago’s class, who knew their lines during a presentation as a living wax museum
-Mrs. Rothenberg, who is a dedicated and funny science teacher
- Becoming a science experiment for Professor Marshmallow (Ruth Markham)
- Started the Educator’s Club at Timber Pines which tutored and mentored students, and later added judging a science fair to their annual events
- The Parent Academy, with Yvette Mendoza
-History Fair judging
- Urban Gentlemen’s Club – Mr. Johnson raised more than $3,000 to pay for shirts and ties for the boys who participated. He stated that community partners are needed to help this program continue.
- Sponsored choral performances at Timber Pines
- Return of the Central High School marching band
- Helped schools complete three construction projects (Hernando High School’s press box, new dugouts at Central High School, ticket booths at Nature Coast High School)
- Overhauled construction process and volunteer application process to streamline and decrease the time needed for approvals
Mr. Johnson stated there were good times, and times when the board “lost its dignity and behaved poorly.” He said there were great accomplishments for the district while he served on the board.
The next board meeting is scheduled for 11/20/18, which will be an organizational meeting. Incoming board members “will face great challenges,” Mr. Johnson said. With Hurricane Michael’s extensive damage in the panhandle, it is likely that the next legislative session will allocate more funds for that area so they can rebuild, which will reduce funds to Hernando County. Mr. Johnson stated his hope that the next board would use the available funds wisely. He thanked the residents for the opportunity to serve the County.