2011… 2012!

2011… 2012

As 2011 comes to a close I thought it important to pause and reflect on so much that has taken place in our school district over the last year.  Many have expressed that the Florida Public Schools System saw more changes in 2011 than it had in all of the past 10 years.  While I am not sure if that is completely correct, it sure has felt that way.

This year provided some of the most challenging changes in public education as a result of state legislature passed and signed into law by Governor Scott.  The one of two changes that are often discussed include SB736, perhaps incorrectly named “The Students Success Act”.  This law creates a new teacher’s merit pay system which directly ties educator’s pay to high stakes tests, including the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, commonly known as the FCAT.  While some of the goals of SB736 were to mirror several initiatives that were already being developed as a result of Florida’s “Race to the Top” (RttT) grant.   Fortunately RttT was proving states and districts a 4 year phase in of the initiatives, SB736 basically gave districts 4 months.  Thankfully Citrus County Schools were well on their way in the RttT development process and Citrus achieved implementation of what was required in SB736.  One of my concerns in SB736 is that it has nearly done away with “due process” for many new teachers and makes the termination process, not just more streamlined, but down right easy.  This could have negative effects for any wrongful terminations which previous laws and statute provided protection of an employees rights.  Even legislators who voted for SB736 have expressed that before it is fully implemented in 2014 changes are needed in the law.  SB736, in part, is likely to be re-addressed in the 2013 legislative session.  The other major change was the new 3-percent pension employee contribution now required for all participants in the Florida Retirement System. For almost 40 years FRS had been entirely employer-paid  for all local and state government employees including teachers, police, fire and others. This was one of the benefits for choosing a modest life in “civil service”. During high income years many of these same employees did not see large increases in their wages, much less a “cost of living adjustment” like those in the private sector received, but that was understood because it was balanced with the 100% retirement contribution. This year all government agencies were allowed to use that 3%, which used to go to FRS (from the employees) to fund the general operations.  Now lawsuits have been filed and concerns are that the law may be found unconstitutional and that local and state agencies will have to find a way to pay back that 3% for this year’s budget and another 3% for next year’s budget. While I think there may be valid reason that the law will, and perhaps should be, found unconstitutional this could have new devastating impacts to agencies and local governments’ budgets.

Now for the positive!

I feel so blessed that my family lives in Citrus County and that my children attend our great public schools.  Our middle school son told us recently, “Mom and Dad I LOVE school, I love my teachers!”  Our 3rd grade daughter was so upset recently when she was sick and needed to stay home from school because she was going to miss being at school learning.  Could we, as parents, ask for much more?

Citrus County had all of its Elementary and Middle Schools awarded an “A” rating .by the Florida Department of Education. In addition Citrus, as a district, again received the highly coveted ‘High Performing District’ from Florida DOE.  Citrus County is the only district in Florida to be awarded as a ‘High Performing District’ six years in a row and the only district among all ‘High Performing’ districts in those six years to see increases in student performance each year during that same period.

2012

As we begin 2012 I have concerns, but I also have hope and excitement.  I enjoy looking at life from “the glass is half full” prospective but I am also a realist and I accept that “the glass is not completely full” either.  While the challenges are very real, we can and will, in Citrus County Schools, continue to provide “Great learning, meeting students’ individual needs and preparing students to be successful in school and beyond.”

I ask that you continue to pray for our students, our school leaders, our school board, and myself as we begin a great 2012!!

 



5 Responses to “2011… 2012!”

  1. Very, creative! :-)

  2. Very, creative! :-)

  3. Rachel M Carducci, wish I could take credit for it but I can’t it is from Most Exciting Photos on FB.

  4. Rachel M Carducci, wish I could take credit for it but I can’t it is from Most Exciting Photos on FB.

  5. Rachel M Carducci, wish I could take credit for it but I can’t it is from Most Exciting Photos on FB.