Monthly Archives: January 2015

Laurinda Barraza Selected as the 2015 School-Related Employee of the Year

Laurinda Barraza, Hendry County School District's School-Related Employee of the Year.

Laurinda Barraza, Hendry County School District’s School-Related Employee of the Year.

The Hendry County School District gathered today to acknowledge and celebrate school-related employees of the year from each school in the district. Each honoree was presented with a plaque and gift of appreciation from Superintendent Paul Puletti.

Mr. Puletti  shared personal stories about each honoree that reflected each of their high levels of dedication to the students of Hendry County. A key example being that a honoree, Silvia Pantoja from food service, made the decision today to miss the luncheon because her lunchroom would be short-staffed and she wanted to be there to make sure the students were fed.

After all honorees were acknowledged individually, Mr. Puletti announced that the selection committee had chosen Laurinda Barraza from Clewiston High School as Hendry County’s School-Related Employee of the Year for 2015.

Below is a list of all the honorees:

LaBelle area School-Related Employees of the Year Nominees.

LaBelle area School-Related Employees of the Year Honorees.

LaBelle High – Diane Raulerson

LaBelle Middle – Belinda Herrera

Country Oaks Elementary – Reyna Garza

LaBelle Elementary – Anita Lozano

Upthegrove Elementary – Chrissy Banda

Clewiston High – Laurinda Barraza

Clewiston Middle – Patricia Weston

Central Elementary – Inez Juarez

Clewiston area School-Related Employee of the Year Honorees

Clewiston area School-Related Employee of the Year Honorees

Eastside Elementary – Elizabeth Williams

Westside Elementary – Brenda Itzen

Federal Programs – Amy Plaza

Food Service – Silvia Pantoja

Exceptional Student Education – Charlene McCall

Clewiston Transportation – Deadra Mixon-Brown

LaBelle Transportation – Jerry Moore

Congratulations to Mrs. Barraza and thank you to each of the honorees for their service to our students.

~ Stephanie

1/13 Meeting Recap

ASUS Transformer Pad on top of printed board packets from three meetings.

ASUS Transformer Pad on top of printed board packets from three meetings.

It was a honor to present Mary Ann Jones (Central Elementary), with a plaque and express the appreciation of the school board for 30 years of dedicated service to begin the January 13 meeting.

A vote on the 2014-15 HCEA (Hendry County Education Association) Collective Bargaining Agreement was postponed to the scheduled January 27 meeting in LaBelle.

At the recommendation of District CFO Michael Yanosik, the board voted unanimously to release $194,156 from the General Committed Fund Balance to the Salary and Benefits Account to cover salary increases voted on and approved in the December 19 meeting.

According to Mr. Yanosik, FADSS (Florida Association of District School Superintendents) have requested school districts consider potential privatization options for district food service programs. The purpose of this request is to gather information and analyze whether privatization offers cost savings for school districts, and to analyze the pros and cons associated with privatizing a district food service program. The board voted unanimously to allow Mr. Yanosik to draft RFPs (Request for Proposals) to submit for the board’s consideration and possible approval. If a RFP is approved, it will be sent out to bid to food service management companies to aide in the Hendry County School Board’s study.

Board members were each issued an ASUS Transformer Pad TF103 to use for board member business, namely to digitally access board packets in lieu of receiving the printed and often lengthy board packets of years past. Printed packets were cumbersome, expensive, and time consuming for district staff to compile. I appreciate the improved environmental impact and the cost efficiency of receiving this information digitally.

The next scheduled school board meeting will be Tuesday, January 27, on the second floor of the Hendry County Courthouse, beginning at 5:30 pm. You can access an agenda and board packet at

Thank you for the honor of serving Hendry County and for taking time to read my blog. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

~ Stephanie

DOE’s Keep Florida Learning Committee Accepting Applications

Thank you for taking time to read my blog.

Florida’s Commissioner of Education, Pam Stewart, has announced an investigation of standardized testing in public schools in response to concerns voiced about the Statewide Assessment Program’s policies and procedures.

Commissioner Stewart indicated the Dept. of Education (DOE) will work with districts throughout the state to gather accurate information on tests administered to meet federal, state and local mandates for the purpose of increasing transparency regarding the use of standardized tests in public schools. DOE staff will assemble and analyze the data collected, and the findings will provide data on the number of standardized tests and the manner in which results are used by the DOE, school boards, and teachers.

Commissioner Stewart also announced the inception of the 11 member Keep Florida Learning Committee whose purpose will be to review opportunities for deregulation for school districts; review instructional material review processes used by school boards; determine parental involvement strategies; and review the implementation of the Florida Standards Assessments.

ANY FLORIDIAN interested in serving on the committee should submit an application to the DOE by visiting APPLICATION DEADLINE IS JANUARY 31, 2015. Commissioner Stewart will serve on the committee alongside 10 committee members that will include TEACHERS, superintendents, school board members, higher education representatives, legislators, and MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC.

I’m planning to apply to serve on the committee and I encourage every teacher, principal, and parent to consider applying as well. It is my opinion that we desperately need representation from Hendry County and other small, rural districts on this committee.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve Hendry County! It’s the greatest job in the world!


New School Board Member. New Year. New Blog.

A very heartfelt THANK YOU for taking time to read my blog.

Happy New Year, Hendry County! It’s been a whirlwind since being sworn into the Hendry County School Board, District 4 seat on November 18. I’ve participated in two official board meetings, one executive session, and a four day Florida School Board Association conference.

I’m new to being a school board member, and blogging, and what I’m absolutely confident about at this point is what I don’t know far outweighs what I do know.  I’ve always been told that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time and as we enter 2015, I’m sitting at this proverbial table feeling hungry and determined.

My plan over the next couple of months is to spend time on each school campus in Hendry County. I’ve appreciated reading each school’s 2014-15 Continuous Improvement Model (formerly known as the School Improvement Plan) and feel like each one offered valuable insight into the instructional and extra-curricular priorities, as well as the culture of each campus. While the CIM’s are valuable tools that provide a great amount of insight, there is no greater teacher than experience. I’m looking forward to the experiences I will encounter and the education I will receive on Hendry County’s campuses in the coming months.

As a board, I feel we’re starting off 2015 on the right foot. A 2.19% raise for district HESPA employees was unanimously approved in the December 2014 meeting and the board unanimously voted to restructure meetings so that the first meeting of the month will be a workshop and the second meeting of the month will be our business meeting.  In my opinion, having a workshop each month is essential to having the knowledge, as a board, to build and manage the district’s budget.

I’d like to personally invite you to attend our next school board meeting on Tuesday, January 13, at the Clewiston Sub-Office Boardroom located at 475 E. Osceola Avenue at 5:30 pm for our first business meeting of 2015.

Thank you for the privilege of serving Hendry County. I am honored and humbled.