Archive for News & Updates

School Policy: Stand for National Anthem

School Policy: Stand for National Anthem

the-star-spangled-banner-music-and-lyrics-youtube-regarding-star-spangled-banner-lyrics-youtubeAt our February School Board meeting on Tuesday, February 13, 2018, I was honored that the School Board unanimously approved my policy recommendation to school board policy 3.60 – ‘FLAG DISPLAY AND PLEDGE, to be revised to include the additional language in Florida Statute 1003.44 which requires that students and the public stand when our United States National Anthem is played, and to add in policy that the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited at the beginning of the day in each of our public elementary, middle, and high school in our district.

During the January 9th, 2018, School Board Public Hearing we approved an update of policy 3.60 – ‘FLAG DISPLAY AND PLEDGE’.  My request simply follows the expectation and daily practice already in our school district and that is already in Florida Statute.  We have a most respectful community and this change simply makes it clear to our students, staff, and public, our policy on the matter.

Citrus County Schools is the first Purple Heart School District in the nation and we strongly support and foster pride in our nation and our veterans. (CLICK HERE to Read blog on Dedication of School District’s Purple Heart Wall of Fallen Heroes.)

The revised policy 3.60 – ‘FLAG DISPLAY, PLEDGE AND NATIONAL ANTHEM’ will receive its final required vote after the required 90-day period, at a School Board Public Hearing on April 10, 2018, where I expect it to pass again unanimously.

The revised policy will read: (Underline is newly added language.)

FLAG DISPLAY, PLEDGE AND NATIONAL 3.60

  1. The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag shall be recited at the beginning of each school day in elementary, middle, and high schools.
  2. Pursuant to Florida Statute § 1003.44, the Board requires all schools in the District to include programs of a patriotic nature to encourage greater respect for the government of the United States and its National Anthem and flag, subject always to other existing pertinent laws of the United States or of the state. Additionally, when the National Anthem is played, students and all civilians shall stand at attention, men removing the headdress, except when such headdress is worn for religious purposes. The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” shall be rendered by students standing with the right hand over the heart. The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag shall be recited at the beginning of the day in each public elementary, middle, and high school in our district. Students will show full respect to the flag during the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, by standing at attention and males removing any headdress, except when such headdress is worn for religious purposes, unless excused by written request of the student’s parent/legal guardian. The Code of Student Conduct that is distributed to all students shall contain written notification that the student has the right not to participate in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
  3. The United States flag and the official flag of Florida shall be displayed appropriately during the school year. Flags shall be displayed in accordance with state statute.
  4. Each classroom and auditorium shall display the United States flag.

Tally Ho

Tally Ho

Days at the Legislator…

IMG_0450As I write this I am in Tallahassee, sitting in the gallery overlooking the Florida House of Representatives Chambers as HB 5001 – General Appropriations Act (more commonly known as the House budget) and the ominous education “train bill” HB 7055 is debated and voted on. Like many of you, I am shaking my head saying, “can we really be again in the same position”? The response isn’t easy, but as disappointed I am on one side I must remain diligent in the work we now must do. The work for today, tomorrow, next week and for next session. I am causally optimistic about public education’s future. Why? One, because we must, for our students’ and teachers’ sake, but also, because there is reason to be.

Yes, the House passed their version of the budget, and yes HB 7055 also passed the House. Both largely along party lines. But it is also clear that while today things were unclear and unsettling, there will be House leadership changes after this session. I know it is said that we have good representation in the legislature in Senate Wilton Simpson and Representative Dr. Ralph Massullo and that is true, but it is more than simply that.

SimpsonSenator Simpson is on track to assume the Senate presidency in 2020. This will provide the Senator great control in advancing his agenda. I believe Simpson to be a strong supporter of career pathways for our high school students. A passion of mine as well and this is essential to Florida’s economic future, let alone is best for students.

MassulloIn addition to Simpson’s continual leadership in the Senate is what is developing in the House. There will be a change in leadership and potential opportunities for new leaders to emerge. Dr. Massullo is one that many of his House peers greatly respect and feel will continue to play a vital role in the House’s future leadership. That is excellent for students and families! Why? Because simply put, Dr. Massullo “gets it”. He has been willing to put his “bills” where his heart is. Where his heart is, is students and their individual academic needs. As I talked to “education friendly” House members—Dr. Massullo’s name is one of the ones they bring up as being a powerful friend to common sense public education policy. This year’s Dr. Massullo filed HB 311 providing common sense alternatives to high-stake testing, and are but one of those examples, as is his co-sponsoring of HB 427. Watching Dr. Massullo on the floor of the House of Representatives, it is evident that he values and respectfully listens to all House members views whether he agrees or not. But major improvements to issues that we know are vital to public education and our students will likely have to wait for a future session. In the meantime, thank you Dr. Massullo and Senator Simpson!

We turn our attention back to this session. Now that the House has passed their budget and HB 7055 will be sent to the Senate to be conferenced. We now turn our attention to the Senate. Today Florida Senate President Joe Negron told reporters that the Senate will not agree to have HB 7055 as part of the budget conference. He went on to say that the bill should be sent to Senate committees for the Senate to consider. While this may slow the adoption and approval process of HB 7055 down, it by no means stops the bill. President Negron noted that most of what is in HB 7055 is probably supported by the GOP majority. That doesn’t mean it won’t change. Expect amendments to be filed and negotiations to begin between the House and the Senate.

Continue to keep informed and I will do my best to share information. Continue to share with legislators about our students’ and teachers’ needs. And for those of faith, pray for wisdom for these policymakers.

House budget ties school funding to controversial HB 7055 education train bill

House budget ties school funding to controversial HB 7055 education train bill

7055There is a train (bill) whistle again blowing this legislative session. The bill is Florida House Bill 7055 and is simply named, “Education”.  It has rolled up over 32 separate other educational bills and has grown to 198 pages.  HB 7055 takes up a broad spectrum of educational law, including but not limited to; revises provisions relating to Commissioner of Education, Department of Education, school districts, school district superintendents, statewide, standardized assessments, charter schools, educational scholarship programs, teacher union certifications, principal autonomy pilot program initiative, college dual enrollment, FLVS, and private schools.

Like last year’s education train bill, this year’s HB 7055 is being understandably criticized for not meeting the single subject law as defined in Article III, section 6, of the Florida Constitution, provides in part: “SECTION 6. Laws. – Every law shall embrace but one subject and matter properly connected therewith….”

Florida PTA and Florida Education Association are just some of the groups with concerns over HB 7055.  The Tampa Bay Times Grade book reported recently, “Florida HB 7055 comes under attack in ads…” (CLICK HERE to read story.)

What is perhaps most concerning to me currently, is that the Florida House budget makes Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) funding contingent upon passage of HB 7055. Why is this such a big deal? The FEFP is the education funding and how school district’s general funds are funded.  In fact, the Florida Department of Education states, “the FEFP is the primary mechanism for funding the operating costs of Florida school districts”. So, if the FEFP isn’t funded then our school district and schools have no funding to operate.

The apparent reason for the Florida House to make education funding contingent on the passage of HB 7055 seems to be that HB 7055 is the House’s educational priority.  Last Florida legislative session the Florida House was successful in passing their educational train bill and it appears they hope to be again.  By tying the educational funding to HB 7055 it also makes it harder for the Governor to veto the bill or the budget line item.

This manner of governing and passing of legislation in this way is concerning. Amendments are filed and inserted into the bill and are hard to know what impact they may have as they were not individually debated on their own merits.  An example of this was in last year’s education train bill, one sentence was added that negatively impact graduation rates and alternative graduation programs in our high schools. (read ThomasTalks blog dated 12/28/2017)

Not everything in HB 7055 is bad, and by far not everything is good.  What needs to happen first is to remove the contingency of the House budget to HB 7055. That can be done by simply striking the House Budget sentence that states, “Funds in Specific Appropriation 92 are contingent upon CS/HB 7055 or similar legislation becoming law”.  HB 7055 as it reads now should not be voted into law. Time is running out this legislative session.  Sub-committees are adorning for the session, essentially killing most bills that have not been heard.

Contact legislative representatives and share with the specifics of how these potential education laws will impact your student and your lives if they are passed.

CCSB 2018 Winter Communication

CCSB-Winter-Communication-2018CCSB 2018 Winter Communication

This 2018 district winter communication includes coverage and information about; Teacher of the Year and School-Related Employee of the Year, Parents’ Guide to the Florida Standards (FS) and Testing Tips, 2018 Kids Marathon, Schoolhouse Hustle, Math Field Day and the 20th Annual Superintendent’s Golf Classic.

Follow this link to download a PDF version: https://thomastalks.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/CCSB-Winter-Communication-2018.pdf

 

 

Free FAFSA workshop at CF

Free FAFSA workshop at CF

27655383_873667592815568_808155582816671398_nParents of College Bound students: The College of Central Florida – Lecanto Campus – is offering a free FAFSA workshop on Weds., Feb. 7, from 5:30-7:30.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the key to obtaining federal financial aid like grants, work-study, student loans, and some scholarships used to pay for college.

The purpose is to assist students and parents with completing the FAFSA application. Space is limited, so please register at http://trio-fafsa-workshops.eventbrite.com

PTA issues Take Action Alert to push support for HB 311 and HB 427

PTA issues Take Action Alert to push support for HB 311 and HB 427

HB 311 and HB 427 reduces manadted testing and is good for students and teachers!

If you are for REDUCED MANDATED TESTING, increased alternatives and against student’s grades being tied to teacher evaluations then please PLEASE read!

Today the Florida PTA who represent over 300,000 Florida members made up of parents, grandparents, teachers and community members issued a plea to our legislature to support HB 311 and HB 427. (Read PTA message below.)

If the Florida House is crafting a large education bill with HB 7055, I implore them and us to encourage them to incorporate HB 311 and HB 427 into HB 7055.  BETTER YET, ASK THAT HB 311 AND HB 427 BE HEARD IN COMMITTEE.

Please contact legislators today!

https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx

 

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Thank you for your continuing interest in Legislative session 2018!

This past week, the House has been pushing through HB 7055, which is a train bill similar to HB 7069. This legislation is steamrolling several bills into one, each of which should be heard on its own merit.

HB 311 and HB 427 are two good pieces of legislation that have yet to be heard in committee. This new legislation, respectively, provides alternative pathways to a standard high school diploma and will eliminate unneeded testing by allowing school districts to set teacher salary schedules removing the merit pay requirement currently in law.

The Florida PTA urges you to call your House Representative and urge them to support or co-sponsor HB 311 and HB 427.