Monthly Archives: September 2015

Academic Improvement Workshop Recap 9/22

Board members and the Superintendent each have a microphone that clearly records audio of Board meetings.

Board members and the Superintendent each have a microphone that clearly records audio of Board meetings.

Just over a million dollars. That’s the budget the Board has to address academic improvement in our D-rated district, and was the subject of an academic improvement workshop preceding the regular business meeting on 9/22.

The new audio system was in place for the workshop. The board members and superintendent were mic’ed up and the workshop was our first public meeting recorded on the new system.

The Board was presented with a list of previously discussed potential allocations totaling $153,005 during budget hearings. They are as follows:

Student Tutors (Formerly AVID) $10,000

Professional Development $3,885

Performance Pay (Estimated) $60,000

Heartland STEM Scholars Program $9,120

Virtual School (Estimated) $40,000

Science Labs $30,000

District administration brought these additional allocations totaling $402,016 before the Board for discussion:

IEP Substitutes $27,000

Data Systems Support $63,008

Professional Development for Science $15,000

Ed Options Academy $139,300

Academic Deans (2) $157,708

$555,021 is a lot of money. State funding has been more “generous” this year than in years past. We’re being told that funding should look favorable next year, but a lot can happen in a year. It’s of the utmost importance that the money we have in our hand is spent in the most effective ways possible. The objective is academic growth and achievement for close to 7,200 students through out the county. The Board’s job is the align the resources to achieve these goals.

The discussion among board members was vigorous and meaningful. Basquin expressed concern about spending trends and his desire to work on whittling down the deficit created from spending more than our revenues the past several years.

My concerns centered around the projected effectiveness of the presented strategies and if we, as a District, are investing our resources into managing the symptoms of low academic performance rather than directing resources to address the causes like truancy, virtually non-existent parental involvement, poverty and language barriers. (I’ll elaborate more on this concept in my next post.)

Thank you so much for taking time to read my blog. I appreciate your engagement and I’m humbled to serve Hendry County.

~ Stephanie

8/25 Meeting Recap

State Representative Matt Hudson paid a visit during the school board meeting to give everyone in attendance his legislative update for District 80.

State Representative Matt Hudson paid a visit during the school board meeting to give everyone in attendance his legislative update.

The highlight of an otherwise typical business meeting during which the board voted unanimously to approve the 2015/16 Master Inservice Plan, 2015/16 Digital Classrooms Plan, and consent agenda, was a visit from District 80’s State Representative Matt Hudson.

Speaker Pro Tempore Hudson praised Superintendent Puletti’s engagement and persistence in Tallahassee in addressing the needs of Hendry County’s schools and students. Speaker Hudson also fielded questions from the Board and audience.

I had questions regarding what options Hendry/Glades Counties are left with after the sudden closure of the mental health facility that was serving approximately 425 students at the time it disbanded. No agency or provider bid on the $1 million contract to provide mental health services for our area, so we are still without accessible mental health care in one of the most impoverished areas of the State.

Though Speaker Hudson could not give me the answer I would have liked, I appreciate his honesty in telling me the status of progress on addressing this problem that is so intertwined with the generational poverty experienced within our county.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve this county and these best students in the world! The next board meeting is the day after Labor Day, September 8.  You can find the board packet and agenda online:

~ Stephanie

8/11 Meeting Recap

Thanks to my readers for taking the time to catch up with me! I apologize for being so delinquent in delivering new posts lately. Between full-time motherhood and a host of projects I’m involved with, I’ve been moving and shaking, and unfortunately putting this blog on the back burner.  Today I was blessed with a chunk of time in which to write, so here it goes…

The 8/11 Hendry County School Board saw a large turnout from Clewiston residents for the 5:30 pm workshop to discuss district administration’s Academic Improvement Proposal that carrying an estimated total price tag of $519,716.

District administration recommended the following to the board:

ED OPTIONS ACADEMY – Seniors who have been unable to pass required state assessments but otherwise have completed all their necessary credits can be offered the opportunity to enroll in the Ed Options Academy. Upon successful completion of EOA credits, the student will qualify to meet the state requirements and receive a high school diploma from an accredited institution.  District administration projects approximately 30 students will enroll during the 2015/16 school year. Estimated cost: $159,300

ACADEMIC DEANS – Hire four individuals, each specialized in K-12 instruction of one of the following academic areas: English/Language Arts/Reading, Mathematics, Science, and Technology. The academic deans would report directly to the Director of Staff Development. The proposal states the team will function much like the State Differentiated Accountability Team and follow their protocol for visiting schools, observing instruction, helping with review of data, and assisting in formulating quality interventions to improve instruction and student achievement. Estimated cost per allocation (including benefits): $78,854 x 4 = $315,416

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT – To combat the district’s falling Science scores, administration is proposing Science teachers in grades K-8 will benefit from receiving a professional needs assessment administered by the Director of Staff Development that will determine specific professional development to support effective instruction. Estimated cost: $15,000 Administration proposes to provide each elementary school and middle school in the county with $2,500 for basic lab materials to conduct project based learning opportunities as part of the science lessons. Estimated cost: $30,000  TOTAL Estimated Cost: $45,000

The workshop wrapped up early at approximately 6:00 pm. The regular business meeting was advertised to begin at 6:30 pm so Superintendent Puletti recommended to the Board that in order to keep business moving forward, we could go ahead and listen to a presentation regarding capital improvement revenue bonds presented by Ford & Associates, Inc.

After the presentation wrapped up, Superintendent Puletti invited the unusually large crowd of audience members to speak regarding something that was not on the agenda. The majority of the audience members were there to show their support for an on-campus exercise class. Numerous audience members shared how this class and instructor personally benefited them.

Superintendent Puletti clarified for the audience that the instructor had recently complied with federal and state laws regarding working with students, as well as board policy regarding liability insurance, and would be able to continue using the district’s facilities without obligation to pay rent. The instructor has begun and will continue to seek the certification over the next year to become an athletic coach for the district in an official capacity. Upon receiving the clarification the audience exited the board room and the business portion of the meeting began shortly afterwards, at the advertised time.

Superintendent Puletti began by acknowledging two Clewiston-area retirees for their dedicated service to the students of Hendry County:

Marilyn Brathwaite, CES Cook – 28 years

Elizabeth Kerr, CHS Cook – 34 years

The Board voted 4-1 to approve the consent agenda. (I voted nay for demonstration purposes for the AP American Government teacher in attendance.)

The Board voted unanimously to approve the Superintendent’s recommendation to appoint Ayman Kaki of K & M Drugs to serve as the Value Adjustment Board’s Business Representative.

I appreciate the opportunity to serve as YOUR school board member! Be on the look out for more posts coming soon!

~ Stephanie