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National Merit Finalists solves Rubik’s Cube in 15 seconds

National Merit Finalists solves Rubik’s Cube in 15 seconds

Today at our School Board meeting we recognized Citrus’s National Merit Finalists (top 1% in nation). One of these young men, Sasank Desaraju (Lecanto High School), has a unique talent that I asked him to share. He can solve a “mixed up” Rubik’s Cube in less then 15 seconds!

Florida Legislature builds a “House of cards”…

Florida Legislature builds a “House of cards”…   

No one wins next, especially not students and schools

party-bosses-smoke-filled-roomsFriday, May 5th, 2017 was the scheduled last day of the 2017 Florida Legislative session.  Going into the Friday it was reported earlier during the day that the budget was not getting done fast enough and so both the Florida Senate and the House mutually agreed to extend session for the budget only until Monday, May 8th, 2017.  The extended session was needed because until Friday at 2:37pm, no specifics were known about the budget.  What is referred to as a “budget conforming bill”.  The conforming language gives the details of the budget the who’s, how’s and what’s of the budget.  What we knew by Thursday was that for public education– $(27.07) less would be funding the Base Student Allocation (BSA).  That equates to about $(300,000) less in funding for Citrus County Schools than last year with more students and mandate than last year.  It appears this will be the first time in Florida’s history that the Legislature will reduce the BSA funding in a non-recession year.  As a result, it was widely reported on Thursday that Governor Rock Scott was seriously entertaining vetoing the State budget.  While extraordinary for the Governor to do, this had also become an unprecedented closed doors/behind the scenes developed State budget.

As bad as all of that, things were about to get worse…

20100717-200902-pic-28968874_6113399_ver1Friday evening both the Senate and House chambers were scrambling finalizing and passing legislation before the end of the session.  Some bills were good, some less so, and some mixed.  Then about 8:30pm, Friday evening something unexpected and unprecedented happen–  The Florida Speaker of the House and other Legislators procedurally rolled nearly all the educational bills this 2017 session, along with many controversial educational bills together into one enormous Education Conforming Bill – HB 7069.  Even many bills which had been amended to remove poor language had come back in this monstrous bill.  To give a perspective of the size and magnitude of this bill.  Think of any recent “train bill” as being a small model train placed next to a full-size train.  Politico is reporting, “Legislative leaders plan to tie nearly 600 pages of education policy to Monday’s budget vote”.

Why do this?

It appears that this was strategically planned in advance to make it near impossible for Legislators to amend the budget before it would be voted on Monday.  By doing this it means everything must pass or fail with now revisions.  While Legislative leaders have denied any political strategies in doing this, it seems to have also been planned to make it hard for the Governor to veto the budget without the entire Florida budget and bills collapsing on itself.

Is this representative governing?  Is this what we expect of our Legislative leaders?  This was to have been the most open and transparent legislative session in Florida history– instead it turned into one of the worst backdoor-secret deal making session in the history of Florida.

We can say, “we’ll remember this next election” but the truth today is if this passes for Florida and Florida’s students the damage will have been done.  Students and schools will suffer because of this legislative session.

We must wait until Monday to see where this all goes.  Please PLEASE contact our Florida Legislators NOW and tell them to fix this! To use any means available to stop this from taking place.

Follow these links to contact our State Senators and State Representatives.


So far what we know is in the EDUCATION CONFORMING BILL – HB 7069

Comprehensive Education Conforming Bill Will Be Up for Final Passage on Monday  – All out effort to kill the bill!  Call your senator this weekend – this is a bad bill for districts and Local Governments

The bill is 278 pages including multiple changes to current law including –

  • Bad language redirecting Title I
  • Schools of Hope
  • Best and Brightest
  • Capital Outlay sharing with Charters
  • Pre-empts Local Governments from doing impact studies re: locating Charters.
  • Clarification of Cost Per Student Station Requirements
  • Exemption of Special Facility Construction Payback from Charter Capital funding
  • Language on 300 Lowest Performing Schools
  • Creation of Small Isolated Elementary School provision
  • Provisions relating to teacher bonuses
  • Updating language relating to Sparsity that has been used in past few years
  • Provision relating to use of Digital Classroom funding
  • Clarification of funding for Federally Connected Program

Florida Senate passes education testing bill– moves back to House

Florida Senate passes education testing bill– moves back to House

Time is running out…

On Thursday, the Florida Senate passed a large educational train bill.  While this bill had hoped to significantly reduce the state mandated assessments students must take, in the end the bill only eliminates one assessment, the Algebra 2 end-of-course (EOC) exam.  The bill will also ask the Florida Department of Education to study by January 1st, 2018 in national exams, such as SAT or ACT, can be used as alternatives to the Florida Standards Assessments and other statewide mandated assessments.

CaptureIn the end I concur with Senator Montford when he said on the floor of the Florida Senate Chambers on Thursday, May 4th, 2017, “Is this bill what I wanted? No. I wanted more, but … I know that, at least, this is a good beginning“.

One of those positive parts to this bill is Senator Mayfield and Rep. Ralph Massullo, M.D. bills which will allow students the participate in two seasons of interscholastic high school sports (varsity and Jr. varsity) to have their athletic participation count as their required physical education credit, rather than take an addition P.E. class.  This will provide more equitable options for athlete students, it also provides students with addition elective options and flexibility.

Next the bill will move back to the Florida House of Representatives and House members could make further changes. Identical language must be approved by both chambers before the end of floor sessions on Friday in order for the bill to be sent to Gov. Rick Scott.

Stay tune…

Sparkman Receives Keys to City

Sparkman Receives Keys to City

18192629_10154295965192257_5739566775070123350_oTwenty-years of military services is a great accomplishment in itself– that on top of twenty-years of educational services to remarkable.  On Sunday, April 30, 2017 the City of Crystal River agreed when, Mayor Jim Farley gave Crystal River High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) Senior Chief Sparkman, USN (ret.) the key to the City of Crystal River for his 20 years of dedication to the CRHS and the Navy Science JROTC program.

Thank you Senior Chief!

Thank you Teachers & Staff


We are so grateful for the commitment each of you have in your work for students, schools and community!

Thank you!


State Education Update: House & Senate Agree…

State Education Update: House & Senate Agree…   

“The ‘House’ always win…”

Citrus expected now to get $92K less than last year’s budget

Florida Legislature_20170417065447On Friday, April 28th, the Florida Legislators PreK-12 Education Budget Conference Committee convened.  In a most unexpected move, the Senate in their first “Offer” on the budget, the Senate accepted the House position on the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) formula, closing any further negotiations on the FEFP. Bottom line is that the House’s much lower funding of schools is what will ‘again’ happen in Florida this year. (Follow this link to see the Senate Office and Meeting Pack:

This agreement includes a ‘rollback’ of the Required Local Effort (RLE) millage rate to 4.322 mills (down from 4.638 mills) and a reduction in the Base Student Allocation (BSA) of more than $27 per student.

What does this mean for Citrus County Schools? The House’s Budget FEFP funding proposal would decrease $92,000 (or -0.09%) from this year’s 4th budget calculation.

Unfortunately, that is not the whole story. For local school boards the state has continued over the years to increase the specific categorical spending.  This current House budget includes $400 million on the controversial “Best & Brightest” teacher bonus program ($200 million), and the new controversial out of state Charter benefiting “Schools of Hope” program ($200 million).  This means even if we had level funding, because of these categoricals that require local districts to only use those funds as stipulated by the Legislature we have much less funding for locally determined needs.

What concerns me now is what current programs and services as a School Board we will have to look to cut or reduce to fund for these categoricals.  Many of these categoricals are ‘personal agenda pet programs’ at the state level and that continues to drive up the cost of public school education.  Why again is the State Legislature telling local governments how to spend local taxpayer moneys.

It is important to remember that the State Legislature sets the Required Local Effort (RLE) millage rate to be collected from the local property taxpayers, NOT the local school board.  The local school board must then use the funds established by the State Legislature to provide the best education possible, while being good stewards of taxpayers’ moneys.  Citrus County Schools has the lowest statutorily allowable education taxes in the State.  Citrus does not have any additional millage rate, sales taxes or other taxing mechanism.  Nearly all the surrounding counties have additional educational funding mechanisms to assist in meeting our students’ educational needs.  This makes every budget and funding decision we make critical to meeting our students needs.

I believe local governments know better what our local needs are and that the State and Federal governments should reduce the number of categorical locally mandated spending.  This would permit those existing dollars to flow to local communities without the need to increase the tax base.  In the current budget, we have now reduced funding and increased categoricals.  This makes funding challenges even hard.  In private business that would be like spending more, while generating less profits.  That is not a good practice.

I want to continue to thank our local State legislative representatives, Rep. Ralph Massullo, M.D. and Senator Wilton Simpson.  These leaders continued to listen to local elected officials and have been working behind the scenes for our schools and community.  It is sometimes difficult to clearly see the results of their labors, but please be assured they are working hard for us during these challenging times.

Much is still taking place, both on the final budget and final bills being passed.  In the end, we will work to continue to provide and make decisions that are best for our students, schools and community.  We must be successful because our kids are counting on us.