I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Minutes of Board Meeting 8-18-2009

I am posting these minutes to expedite information dissemination. Much more complete and detailed minutes will be posted in 4-6 weeks on the school district’s website. In the mean time, these minutes are what I feel were the big “takeaways”, a macro look at my impression of the meeting. These are condensed, abbreviated, shortened, and to the point.

Meeting convened at 5:31 PM

All Board Members and Superintendent Malcolm Thomas present.

Pledge of Allegiance led by rising 2nd Grade N.B. Cook Elementary School Student Madeline Bryan

No Speakers addressed the board during Public Forum

PTA Presentation—given by Kathy Lasky

Stellar Employee Recognition—John Beasley, a 34 year employee of the district, currently serving as supervisor for the grounds crew.

Recognition of 13 “Florida Five Star Schools”

Jim Allen Elementary
Beulah Elementary
Bratt Elementary
Helen Caro Elementary
N.B. Cook Elementary
Cordova Park Elementary
Ensley Elementary
R.C. Lipscomb Elementary
Navy Point Elementary
Pleasant Grove Elementary
Scenic Heights Elementary
A.K. Suter Elementary School
Warrington Elementary

Barbara Linker and her staff were recognized for their excellence in financial reporting with two different national awards.

Standards of Behavior Committee introduced, work product described, and each board member and the superintendent signed a copy of the final product. Additionally, a full sized banner of the standards of behavior was signed by the superintendent, board members, and most of the school district staff in attendance.

Rule adoptions: None

Permission to Advertise:

1. Notice of Intent to advertise to Adopt Amendments to School District Rule 6Gx17-1 Approved 5-0

Administrative Appointments, all approved by unanimous 5-0 vote:

1) Robert Doss from Teacher/ West Florida H.S. to Director II Transportation, 12 Month Position

2) Jefferson Garthwaite from Principal, Carver Century, to Coordinator I, Stimulus

3) Janet Penrose, from Dean, Bailey Middle School, to Assistant Principal, Bailey Middle School

4) Sandy Edwards from Director, Comprehensive Planning, to Director, comprehensive planning Elementary Education effective 7/1/09, 12 month position

6 sets of June/July Board Meeting Minutes Approved, 5-0

Entire Consent Agenda Approved.

All Curriculum items approved

All Finance items approved

All Human Resources items Approved (Item C. 3. a. Risk Management, approval of Escambia County Sheriff’s Department School Resource Officer Contract approved 4-0, with Linda Moultrie abstaining due to the fact that she is currently employed by the Sheriff’s Department.

All Purchasing items approved

All Operations items approved

(Entire Consent Agenda was meticulously covered and discussed at length during two thorough school board workshops held during the early afternoon and evening of 8-13-2009 and 8-14 2009)

Board voted unanimously, 5-0, to accept the superintendent’s recommendation regarding the following:

Student recommendations:None

Employee Recommendations by Superintendent approved unanimously by board 5-0, to include:

3 employees suspended without pay

Meeting adjourned at 6:28P.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ron Clark Lights up the Pensacola Civic Center

Teacher, author, and speaker Ron Clark came to Pensacola today.

He addressed a crowd of 1000 teachers, administrators, and members of the public to get everybody “fired up” about the upcoming school year.

Who is Ron Clark?

Mr. Clark is a dynamic speaker, for starters. He has been extremely successful as a teacher, and in 2000 he was named the Disney “Teacher of the Year.” His novel, The Essential 55, was a New York Times Bestseller. His story was made into the 2006 movie “The Ron Clark Story” starring Matthew Perry (Chandler, from “Friends”). Mr. Clark currently operates the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. A short biography is available here.

His message to Escambia County Teachers today—do not be afraid to take risks. Do whatever you can to get through to your students and try to identify with your students and teach TO THEM rather than lecture AT THEM.

I am so glad that we as a district were able to have Mr. Clark come to Pensacola, and I am glad that I was able to attend today’s event. I am also glad that we had a respectable turnout—although I lament the fact that only about 1/3 of our district’s teachers showed up for this FREE event. Every teacher needs to see this guy, that’s my opinion, and those that chose not to attend made a huge mistake!

My main takeaways from his message this morning was that to get through to some students—teachers need to think “out of the box”. Mr. Clark uses some non-standard approaches that have proven to be very effective.

Mr. Clark uses music to get his students motivated to learn.

Mr. Clark uses creativity to make his lessons relevant to younger generations of students.

Mr. Clark engages parents and the community to help him teach his students

Mr. Clark is not afraid to take risks

Mr. Clark believes in maintaining high standards—and finding ways to help his students meet these expectations, rather than lowering expectations.

Mr. Clark’s website, for additional information and resources, is here.

I must say that I was totally blown away by this man—and I am very grateful to the following individuals who made his visit to Pensacola today possible:

Mrs. Celestine Lewis, Principal, Jacqueline Harris Preparatory Academy

Escambia County School District, Title One Department (Marcia Nowlin)

Malcolm Thomas, Escambia County Superintendent of Schools

Escambia County Board of County Commissioners (donation of Civic Center facilities for today’s event).

I will strongly support bringing Mr. Clark back for next years’ school year kickoff event, and I will tell everyone I talk to that they NEED to see this man in person!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Escambia County Schools Discipline/Expulsion Statistics 2008-2009

One of the concerns that I often hear from parents and constituents is the issue of drugs and weapons being brought to school.

I have had direct requests about specific infractions and numbers of students involved, like this recent request made by a poster to this blog:

"How many students have been expelled each month over the last six months?"

Every month after the regular board meeting, I list the number/type of infractions and the discipline that is handed down in my abbreviated minutes here on this blog. From what I have seen as a member of this school board, We are fair as a district; but we are also firm and we remove students if they make bad choices.
The Board was recently provided a booklet summarizing in great detail the student expulsions from the 2008-2009 school year. Much of this report contains sensitive, confidential information. This information cannot be divulged, but the summarized statistics can be and links will be provided in this post to these generic/non-confidential statistics.

I am proud to say that considering the fact that we have nearly 40,000 students--only a miniscule fraction of this number is foolish enough to bring weapons, drugs, or other illegal items to school. We will catch those that bring contraband on campus. We will catch them and they will be expelled from our schools. Our schools are safe, we all want to keep them that way, and we as a district do not tolerate drugs or weapons on any school property.
Analysis of Expulsion and Infraction Data, 2008-2009

For the 2008-2009 school year, a breakdown of weapon/drug infractions by school is here
For the 2008-2009 school year, a breakdown of expulsions by race, gender, and school site is here.

I feel confident that as a district we will continue to make our schools as safe as they can be-- by continuing to ensure that those who bring contraband to school are caught and punished.