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, July 20, 2011

Escambia County School Board Cutting Property Taxes for 2011-2012

At Tomorrow’s special meeting of the School Board of Escambia County, the agenda will include setting proposed millage rates for the 2011-2012 budget year for Escambia County property owners.
For the typical property owner in Escambia County, the School Board Millage rate is responsible for the largest dollar amount on the overall tax bill.  The majority of the millage calculation formula is dictated to us from Tallahassee—so in most instances we are constrained in what rates we can, can’t, should, or must levy.
The good news for 2011-2012 is that this year our millage rates are going down.
Everything else locally is going up, gas, groceries, electricity, water—but your local school board tax rate is being CUT this year.
It may not be a huge cut, but it is a decrease.

Last year’s total school board levy                            7.860
This year’s total school board levy                            7.821
This special meeting begins at 5:00 PM Thursday, July 21st at the Hall Center in room 160.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Escambia Student Drug Testing Plan: A Student's Perspective...and My Response

I received the below email from an Escambia District student regarding our drug testing plan.  my response follows below...

>>> "XXXXXXXXXXX" 07/15/11 2:47 PM >>>

Mr. Bergosh

I have been reading up on the new Drug Test Procedure scheduled to go into effect this 2011-2012 school year. Regarding the qualifications and rules of the test, I would like to say that from a personal perspective and that of a current students. This policy is aimed at the group of Students that are least likely to participate in drug consumption while the students more likely to be active in drugs are the ones riding buses to school, eating free lunch, and not involved in after school activities. If this policy is meant to be a way of making schools safer...Broaden the crack-down. Aim not only at the kids who drive cars and are in Beta club....aim at the students that arrive on campus in a bus packed full of people and the students that do not care for or participate in after school activities. Ultimately I am against this new Policy. If a student is handling his own at school and passing classes, and staying out of trouble, then why should what he/she does after school dictate if they can be on a team or drive to school. Also, to ensure the most efficient results of a drug test, ALL Escambia county employees should be drug tested randomly, as so the children are not contaminated to such hideous acts of morality.



XXXXXX Grade Student


my response...


Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding your opinion about the drug testing policy. Even though you do not agree with the policy, the way in which you present your opposing view is commendable.

From a personal perspective-I have three kids in the schools and my oldest son and my daughter have both been exposed to illegal drugs at their respective middle and high schools.

Drugs are out there, XXXXXX. Peer pressure is powerful, and what we are doing by the random testing is providing students an additional reason to say no to drugs, an additional buffer against peer pressure.

Our policy did not evolve in a vacuume; For the 2009 school year, incidences of student expulsions for drug offenses rose 17% over 2008. This alarming increase prompted the school board to develop a comprehensive drug plan and to put it in place. The 2010-2011 school year, with implementation of most of the portions of our plan having occurred, has seen a dramatic decrease in drugs on campus. The drug testing is a follow on addition to the existing policy.

I agree with you in that I wish we could cast a wider net and test all students--but unfortunately we cannot do this because we are a public school. Private schools such as Catholic High School have the legal ability to test all of their students, and they do. But public schools have a different set of rules and regulations that we must follow, and we cannot legally test all students.

And by the way, students who participate in extracurricular activities and sports do sometimes get into trouble with drugs--two examples I'll give you XXXXXXXXXXXXXX school. last year several students on the XXXXXXXXXX team on a trip out of state in Kentucky were caught with marijuana. a few seasons back, several players from the XXXXXXXXX team, on a trip in Louisiana, were suspected of using marijuana.

It happens at all schools, not just XXXXXXXXX, and It's not just those who do not participate in sports. Sometimes, often times, it is those who we least expect, those who are active participants in extracurricular activities.

You sound as though you have your priorities in order and I do not think this testing will impact you. I hope you have an excellent and productive year.

But please understand that as district leaders we must do everything we can to keep our campuses as safe and drug free as we can and having a comprehensive approach like the one we are implementing is the most effective way to do this.

Jeff Bergosh

Jeff Bergosh
Escambia County School Board, Dist. 1

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Escambia County School Board Proposed Revised District Boundary Map and Statistics

(Dark Blue Lines indicate existing district boundaries, color shaded areas indicate proposed boundaries, and red stars indicate the current residences of School Board, BOCC, and ECUA representatives)

After an initial School Board/BOCC joint meeting on the subject of redistricting in May and now a subsequent meeting yesterday—a proposed revised district map has emerged.
From the beginning, the unanimous consensus among and between members of the BOCC and School Board has been that our respective districts should be identical.
As a result of meetings with staff from the Supervisor of Elections Office and our counterparts on the county commission, school board members from all five districts may now have districts that mirror the BOCC.
The map above and corresponding data reflects the product of yesterday's excrutiating, tedious, deliberative, and meticulous 3.5 hour joint session. 
My prediction is that this map will be the final draft rendition, as I clearly heard at yesterday’s open, advertised joint meeting that at least three BOCC members and three School Board members indicated support for this map, as proposed, to be the best rendition under all of the constraints that guide the redistricting process.

Once each respective body conducts public meetings and takes input from the community, the maps will be voted on by each board.  If the maps change as a result of public input and/or any other reasons, the School Board and BOCC would most likely hold another joint session to iron out any changes.  While not mandated by law, (again I'll restate) that my impression is that the majority of the BOCC and School Board members want identical districts;  The common goal, from what I've heard after attending all of these meetings, is to follow every law and rule and have identical BOCC/School Board Member districts after this mandatory redistricting process is completed.
This map will be discussed again briefly at the school board workshop this Thursday morning at 8:00 AM, Room 160 of the Hall Center.