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.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Employee Health Clinic Concept to be presented for Board Consideration

As an addition to the School Board of Escambia County’s organizational meeting that will be held one week from today, on November 22, 2011, a presentation on the recently completed Health Clinic Feasibility Study will be given to the board.
In November of 2010, this item was discussed by members of the board; however there seemed to be no really strong support for this concept at that time.  The matter was set aside, referred to the benefits committee.
Fast forward one year, with health costs skyrocketing, premiums soaring, and more and more out-of-pocket costs being foisted on district employees—and the timing seems ripe for the district to establish a clinic for employees, dependents, and eligible retirees as a mechanism for controlling costs to our self-funded health insurance plan.
The feasibility study does not definitively recommend the establishment of a clinic, but rather discusses the potential savings and costs associated with starting up a clinic.
The upside is that lower paid employees could utilize such a clinic and save on out of pocket co-pays and some drug costs.  Currently there are some employees who forego doctor’s visits because of the costs, which could lead to more expensive treatments down the line for these persons.
The district health trust fund saves if utilization by employees grows and employees with chronic conditions utilize the facility.
To be successful, the district must market this clinic as a convenient and less expensive alternative to seeing one’s primary care physician for minor or routine visits.
Also, the district must choose the clinic location wisely and be prepared to sustain some initial start up costs for the first several years.
I’m hopeful that my fellow board members will carefully consider this concept as a benefit to the employees and a cost saving, long-term employee wellness vehicle for our workforce.

Friday, November 11, 2011

AA Dixon Charter School Struggles Continue--The Good, The Bad, and the ..............

At yesterday's workshop of the Escambia County School Board, a presentation on the progress of the embattled AA Dixon Charter School was given.  Some interesting information was disseminated, but curiously-- no local press coverage of this school's progress report occurred.

An updated but not yet official (?) revised Corrective Action Plan was handed out to members of the board, along with other documentation. A verbal presentation was given by AA Dixon Principal Cathy Culbert as well.

The good:  The school has made an effort to recruit students and their enrollment spiked to 165 students for the October count  (it has subsequently receded to around 148 students).  Additionally, anonymous donors have given the school a significant number of books and the principal reports that the library at this school has been established. (this has been an ongoing concern for me personally--what elementary school does not have a library with books in it for the students?) So many books have been donated that students were given books to keep and take home. This is very good.  Also, some unknown, anonymous but generous donor has given the school over $30K in monetary support--a much needed boost for this financially troubled school.  Additionally, the school reports that they are working to purchase and repair excess busses from the Escambia district in an effort to save on transportation costs. (Currently Dixon charter is outsourcing their transportation to Durham School Services)  In addition to these positives, a local hotel chain company has pledged assistance with mentoring students at this school--an extremely helpful part of the puzzle if this school is to succeed.  We were also given minutes from their newly constituted, locally recruited school board which was a nice addition to the presentation.

The Bad:  As was discussed at many previous meetings, the financial condition of this school continues to erode fast. Their latest P&L statement has a negative fund balance of (-$2,689.00).  Unreserved fund

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Law Enforcement Investigators Questioning Students at School Part III

At this afternoon's meeting of the Escambia County School Board, I initiated discussion of the district's policy regarding student questioning by law enforcement at school.

As I have discussed previously here and here, I believe the district needs a better policy which affords parents the opportunity to be present when their children are questioned at school for serious incidents which could potentially lead to civil or criminal liability (for the student and/or the parents).

At the meeting, members of the sheriff's office were present to advocate for the continuation of the existing policy which they described as "working well".  They want to keep the status quo on this issue.

But I have seen some issues arise which I believe necessitate a better policy.

Mrs. Hightower requested time to digest the data I brought to the meeting, and Mrs. Moultrie suggested she may be open to a policy change if  it is developed in coordination with law enforcement.

Mr. Thomas expressed his support for the current existing policy "as-is", and Mr. Boone expressed no opinion one way or another.

Mr. Slayton expressed support for the status quo with respect to the current policy, in alignment with Mr. Thomas and the Sheriff's department.

I will attempt to meet with members of the Sheriff's department over the course of the next month to get their input into a better policy, and  I will bring this revision to next month's discussion meeting.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Law Enforcement Investigators Questioning Students on School Property, Part II

Last month I expressed an interest in modifying our existing policy with respect to how students are questioned at school for non-school discipline related or law enforcement purposes.

At the meeting, I explained that because our attorney was not present I would put this item back on the agenda for the following month.

Between then and now, I have worked with our attorney to craft draft policy that is legal and appropriate based upon how the state of Illinois handles this same issue.  Our school district has the right to carefully and thoughtfully control access to its students by Law enforcement investigators and according to recent legal rulings I believe we should be doing this.

At Wednesday's discussion meeting, I'll be bringing this proposed language to discuss with my fellow board members with the intention of gaining a consensus for the idea of inserting this language into current policy.

School Board Discussion Items For Wednesday, November 9

The following items will be on the agenda for a special discussion workshop to be held this Wednesday, November 9, 2011:

1. Protocol for Questioning of Students on School Property by Law

Enforcement - Jeff Bergosh (5 minutes)

2. Procedures for Organization of School Board - Jeff Bergosh (5 minutes)

3. Services for Students that Don't Qualify for Tutorial Service
Programs - Linda Moultrie (5 minutes)

4. Methods of Notification from Schools to Parents of Informational
Items - Linda Moultrie (5 minutes)

5. Operational Audit for Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2011 - Patty Hightower (10 minutes)

6. House Bill 163 - Bill Slayton (5 minutes)