“TWO GOOD SOLES” Shoes and Socks Drive


Shoes and Socks Drive
Remembering & Responding to 9/11
Benefiting Citrus County Youth

TGS-1The Nature Coast Volunteer Center will be collecting NEW Shoes and Socks until September 9, 2016 Collected items will benefit the following agencies:
Citrus County District Student Services
CASA – Citrus Abuse Shelter Association
Citrus County Family Resource Center
Citrus United Basket
Daystar Life Center
Pregnancy & Family Life Center

Your donations will stay right here in Citrus County to benefit local children in need.

This day of service is sponsored by RSVP of Citrus County, a program of the Nature Coast Volunteer Center.
For more information please call 352-249-1275.

Drop off locations:

  • Central Citrus Community Center, 2804 W. Marc Knighton Ct. Lecanto
  • Central Ridge Community Center, 77 Civic Circle, Beverly Hills
  • Citrus County District Students Services, Lecanto & Inverness l
  • Citrus County Extension Services, 3650 W. Sovereign Path, Lecanto
  • Citrus County Libraries—all locations
  • Citrus County Resource Center, 2804 W. Marc Knighton Ct., Lecanto
  • Citrus County Tax Collectors Office, Crystal River and Inverness
  • Citrus Springs Community Center, 1570 W. Citrus Springs Blvd.
  • East Citrus Community Center, 9907 E. Gulf to Lake Hwy., Inverness
  • Inverness Community Center, 1082 N. Paul Dr., Inverness
  • Nature Coast Bank, 2453 N Citrus Hills Blvd, Hernando
  • Nature Coast Bank, 1160 N Suncoast Blvd, Crystal River
  • West Citrus Community Center, 8940 W. Veterans Dr., Homosassa
  • YMCA, 4127 W. Norvell Bryant Highway, Lecanto


School budgeting cannot be done based on ‘what ifs’

The following was published in the Citrus Chronicle on August 13th, 2016

School budgeting cannot be done based on ‘what ifs’

36119-8Tammy Wilson
Special to the Citrus County Chronicle

On Aug. 30, 2016, Citrus County voters will be asked to approve or deny the Citrus County School Board’s resolution to levy a ½-cent sales surtax for Capital Outlay.

Many voters question the need for the levy, and there have been many comments made such as:

  • What if the County Commissioners reinstate impact fees?
  • What about Duke Energy’s gas plants coming online?
  • What if property values rise?
  • What if the state increases the millage rate for Capital Outlay?

These questions are all valid questions and points, but all are based on speculation and “what ifs.” The school district cannot base the Capital Budget on “what ifs” and speculation, it needs a reliable consistent source of funding.

At the close of the fiscal year on June 30, the CCSB has approximately $22.5 million in its Capital Fund. The CCSB has an average of $20 million in capital costs a year, this does not take into consideration any major remodeling or construction projects, it only includes what is needed to keep our schools safe for our students and faculty.

Therefore, most of the money in the Capital Fund will be spent during the 2016-17 fiscal year.

During the 2016-2017 fiscal year, tax revenue will generate approximately $13 million, PECO maintenance and other sources will generate under $1 million; this is still a $6 million deficit of funds for 2017-18 capital projects. Even though property values are on the rise, they would have to increase to $13.5 billion from the current $9 billion, to generate enough property tax along with other funding revenue to cover the $20 million in expenses next year.

The time to act is now, Citrus County School Board members have made the choice to ask the voters to allow them to levy a 1/2-cent sales surtax for Capital Outlay. It takes an average of two and a half years to plan, fund and build a new school; they have to start preparing now. Even though the CCSB has used the numbers from 2007- 2008 to illustrate how much funding they have lost, the fact that the cost of labor and commodities has risen since 2007- 2008 seems to be missing from many conversations. The CCSB has been prudent in its spending and cut costs where applicable to get the minimal spending down to $20 million a year.

Highly rated school systems are a draw for young parents building a future and planning a move. “How are the schools?” is the first question many home buyers looking to relocate ask.

One of the big draws to Citrus County for my parents 27 years ago, when my sisters were still in school, was the quality of the public schools. As a parent, I decided to stay in Citrus County mainly because of the quality of education my two daughters received and that my son and two granddaughters are currently receiving.

As a community we have to act if we want to continue to draw people to our county to boost our economy, we need to give our students, teachers and the entire school system the support they deserve. This is the absolute best message Citrus County could send to any business or family considering moving to Citrus County. When voting, consider this: When you shop or eat at the big chain stores in surrounding counties, you are contributing and supporting their schools, paying an extra 1/2-cent sales tax. Why would you not want to support your own schools, faculty and students the same way?

Every student deserves the best learning environment possible, we owe it to them to have the best facilities possible.

Hopefully, on Aug. 30, the voters will agree.

Tammy Wilson is director of finance for the Citrus County School District

Purple Heart Anniversary

Purple Heart Anniversary

Aaron A. Weaver Chapter 776, Military Order of the Purple Heart

IMG_0208Today at our August 2016 Regular School Board Member in honor of August 7th Purple Heart Anniversary, Aaron A. Weaver Chapter 776, Military Order of the Purple Heart Commander “Bud” Allen and Chapter Adjutant and Historian Curt Ebitz helped with the opening exercises.

The Citrus County School District was again recognized for being the First Purple Heart School District and for the Veteran’s in the classroom program.  During the meeting a new plaque honoring Citrus County School District as being the First Purple Heart School District was unveiled.

During the opening Curt Ebitz read the ‘The History of the Purple Heart’  and shared that approximately 130 Purple Heart recipients currently live in Citrus County.

The History of the Purple Heart, first known as “Badge of Military Merit”

At his headquarters in Newburgh, New York, on August 7, 1782, General George Washington devised two new badges of distinction for enlisted men and noncommissioned officers. To signify loyal military service, he ordered a chevron to be worn on the left sleeve of the uniform coat for the rank and file who had completed three years of duty “with bravery, fidelity, and good conduct”; two chevrons signified six years of service. The second badge, for “any singularly meritorious Action,” was the “Figure of a Heart in Purple Cloth or Silk edged with narrow Lace or Binding.” This device, the Badge of Military Merit, was affixed to the uniform coat above the left breast and permitted its wearer to pass guards and sentinels without challenge and to have his name and regiment inscribed in a Book of Merit. The Badge specifically honored the lower ranks, where decorations were unknown in contemporary European Armies. As Washington intended, the road to glory in a patriot army is thus open to all.”

Pre-WW2 Awards: The Purple Heart as we know it today was reestablished in 1932 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington. The original criteria for award of the Purple Heart as published in the War Department Circular No. 6 of February 22, 1932 states that the medal be awarded to anyone serving in the Army who had received combat-related injuries or had received the AEF’s Meritorious Service Citation Certificate during WWI, the latter criteria harkening back to the intent of George Washington’s “Badge of Military Merit”.

WWII Awards: In April 1942 the War Department amended its policy regarding the issuance of the Purple Heart. The new regulations authorized the posthumous award of the Purple Heart retroactive to December 7, 1941, and eliminated the use of the medal as a merit award.

(source: http://www.citruspurpleheart.org/page3.html)

Welcome To Your Child’s iPad Help Info

file-page1Welcome To Your Child’s iPad Help Info

The District’s new Title 1 Technology Specialist Dan Koch developed this excellent resource, ‘Welcome To Your Child’s iPad’ that I wanted to share.

Follow this link to download: http://thomastalks.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Welcome-To-Your-Childs-iPad.pdf

Half Penny for Schools

Half Penny for Schools

Citrus_half_penny_2016Mail in election ballots for the August 30th primary have begun being mailed, and no issue for our school district’s future may be more important than the Half-Penny for Schools Capital Referendum.

The State Legislature in 2008 have reduced the maximum millage rate a local school district can levy—first from 2.0 down to 1.75 mils, and then again down to 1.5 mils.  This coupled with the reduction in property values means that since 2008 Citrus County School district has lost and have had to cut over $75 million dollars from capital outlay with over $40 million dollars in the last four years alone.  School Districts around the state have been 13647107_10207372251841024_2142720360_oforced to request from voters’ school funding referendums so that schools’ capital needs may be adequately funded.  Nearly every surrounding county school district has had to pass a referendum to help fund school capital needs.  In addition, even with the new gas plants coming on line, soon Citrus County will lose two more electric generating plants at the local energy plant.

CaptureCitrus County Schools is recognized as a High Performing School District by the Florida Department of Education in part due to our School District’s positive annual financial audits. Citrus County Schools is one of the lowest school districts in Florida for the percent of budget spent on district-level expenditures.  As a school district our School Board, Superintendent, administrators, departments, schools, teachers and staff focus on classroom needs.

Cutting the budget more and priority funding alone will not be enough.  That is why the School Board unanimously approved a ballot referendum for funding Citrus School’s Capital needs to be placed on the August 30th, 2016 primary ballot. 

Citrus_half_penny_2016_w_vote (2)The funds raised will all stay locally! It is estimated that this referendum could raise approximately $6.5 million dollars annually. It is projected that 20% of the tax will be paid by tourists and out of county residents. The cost annually for Citrus—it is estimated that a family of four with an average household income of $40,000 the estimated tax will be $50 per year or $4.17 per month.  The benefits to our students, schools, community and potentially to property values for a continually highly rated successful school district is enormous.

I urge you to support this very important referendum.

For more information, visit http://citruseducation.com/salestax.htm

Teacher Welcome Back & Digital Learning 2.0

Teacher Welcome Back &

Digital Learning 2.0

IMG_0172The annual welcome back for teachers took place at the Curtis Peterson Auditorium this morning. It is always a mix of emotions—new teachers nervous about starting, and returning teachers wanting to get back to their classroom and work.  There is excitement of the new year and a little sadness that the short summer break went by so quickly.  This is always a big event and there is often a big surprise (or two).

This welcome back would be immediately followed by a massive digital learning professional development. Lindy Woythaler, Director of Professional Development opened the day and introduced Superintendent Sandra “Sam” Himmel. Superintendent Himmel welcomed the teachers back and talked about the importance of a special group of individuals to our schools and then opened the stage’s curtain to reveal our Citrus County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officers and Sheriff Jeff Dawsey to honor them for their service to our students, staff and schools. The very packed audience “roared” as they clapping and gave a standing ovation, screaming with pride and appreciation for their service.  Sheriff Dawsey talked about his upcoming retirement and of the outstanding relationship between the Sherriff’s office and the School District and talked about how rare that was. Sheriff Dawsey seemed most taken back by the support and appreciation of the audience.

Co2_EI3WgAArc62If all of that were not enough Superintendent Himmel had another special guest to introduce. Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.  Commissioner Stewart came down from Tallahassee to help welcome back our teachers.  She has recently completed her radiation treatments at the Tampa Moffitt Center and she opened up briefly about her cancer recovery.  Commissioner Stewart shared what the consistent and outstanding accomplishments of Citrus County Schools and she praised the teachers and the leadership team under Superintendent Himmel.  Commissioner Stewart explained that the digital expectation and successful technology implementation of curriculum done in Citrus County Schools exceeds that of most districts. She explained that it is time that teaching moves away from a textbook and focus on teaching standards using teachers’ expertise and the digital one-to-one device as the curriculum.  I believe wholeheartedly with Commissioner Stewart and am confident that is what Citrus Schools is doing.

The session then moved on to the digital training.  Over 200 Citrus teachers provided some of the most cutting edge training to our over 1,100 teachers.  This level of expertise in the past would have cost a school district tens-to-hundreds of thousands of dollars. Click here to read the catalog of the day’s breakout sessions. I was honored to be asked to present a learning session and presented, ‘Digital Tools for Struggling Students’.  The session shared about how to use digital tools that provide personalized support for struggling readers and writers. I provided suggestions on how these tools may be utilized for IEPs and PMPs.  Click here to see the presentation.

I am so proud of the exciting talents of our educators in Citrus County and how our students will benefit from our teachers’ talents and insight.  It is going to be another great school year!