1. A thorough presentation was given on the idea of converting our fleet of busses from diesel to natural gas. The presentation and associated back-up documents were given to board members ahead of the meeting which was extremely helpful, and many of the pros and cons were discussed at length; The discussion led to the recommendation from the Superintendent and the head of transportation that we maintain the fleet of diesel busses for now until infrastructure is in place such that the return on investment to replace our fleet with CNG busses can be justified by overall cost savings. At present, moving to CNG does not seem to make sense economically.
2. Once again I discussed the need for our district to consider raising the bar in terms of requirements for 8th graders to move into High School. I brought data from other districts in Florida, Chicago, Madison Wisconsin, Gwinnett County Georgia, and other school systems that have more rigorous advancement requirements for eighth graders than do we in Escambia. I requested that staff and my fellow board members look into the data and research the issue for themselves so that when our Pupil Progression Plan comes to the board for revision in a few months—we can be prepared, if we as a body feel it is prudent, to increase the requirements and move the needle on this issue.
3. A presentation was given to the board on the effectiveness of our district’s comprehensive drug plan year to date. One high level district administrator characterized the overall plan and its results as “incredibly good” Some highlights from the plan:
1. NO parental complaints about drug testing, drug dogs, or the awareness campaign.
2. 61% of all High School Students are in the pool for random screenings
3. 56 % of Middle School Students are in the pool for random screenings
4. Last school year, 6% of the students in the pool were randomly tested, resulting in 2% of this sample testing positive for drugs; This has led to students and parents in some cases recognizing that a problem exists, and follow up counseling and assistance being provided to the students who tested positive
5. Through February 14—248 drug dog sweeps have taken place and this has resulted in 41 alerts by the canines. 5 small quantities of drugs and/or paraphernalia finds resulted from the hits
6. A larger number of students are reporting their fellow students who bring drugs on campus to Crime Stoppers and/or school based LEOs—a much higher number than in previous years
7. Students have taken “ownership” of the awareness campaign, and have bought in to the program district wide, resulting in a precipitous decline in the number of drug related suspensions, from 85 in 2009-2010, to 49 in 2010-2011, to only 19 through March1st of this year.