Message from
FADSS CEO Bill Montford
Resilience and Strength...the Core of a Good Leader
Clearly, we have been, and continue to be, living in unprecedented times. The changes we have experienced brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020 have impacted every facet of our daily lives. This current crisis has certainly shone a light upon the critical roles that public schools play in the lives of our students, their families and our communities as a whole. 

Yet, despite the immense challenges, I continue to be so appreciative of the leadership shown by Florida’s district school superintendents to ensure that students continue to learn, teachers are teaching, school and district staff are employed, and public schools continue to serve as the cornerstone of their communities. I attribute this outstanding leadership to two key qualities: resilience and strength.

  • Resilience is a crucial characteristic of high-performing leaders. Resilience is the human capacity to meet adversity, setbacks and trauma, and then recover from them in order to live life fully. Resilient leaders bounce back from setbacks. They have the ability to sustain their energy level under pressure, to cope with disruptive changes and adapt.
  • Strength is defined as the quality or state of being strong, the capacity for exertion or endurance. The term strength applies to the quality or property of a person or thing that makes possible the exertion of force or the withstanding of strain, pressure, or attack.

Whereas leadership is quite simply the capacity to lead, clearly one’s capacity to be an effective leader is directly tied to their resilience and strength. And I assert that there are fewer jobs that are tougher or more demanding than that of a district school superintendent. The immense responsibility that accompanies the role of being the educational leader of a community is not taken lightly by superintendents. Every decision a superintendent must make takes into consideration what is best for the students, teachers, district and school staff, as well as the community as a whole.

Difficult decisions have always played a key role in the job of a district school superintendent. The COVID-19 pandemic clearly multiplied the number and magnitude of those “difficult decisions.” And as with any difficult decision, there will be those that embrace and support it and those that disagree and judge, often without full understanding of the scope of the issue.

Through it all, Florida district school superintendents have continued to lead their communities with resilience and strength and make the tough choices necessary to ensure continued learning and educational opportunities in a safe environment for Florida’s nearly 2.9 million public school students.

Thank you for leading with resilience and strength. We will get through these trying times together and come out wiser, stronger and ever more committed to educational excellence and equity for all students.

~ Bill Montford, FADSS CEO
In his opening remarks at the January 13 meeting of the State Board of Education held at Daytona State College, Commissioner Corcoran was very complimentary of Florida’s superintendents and their efforts in keeping schools open so students can receive the services and quality face-to-face education they need. He emphasized the importance of the strong collaboration between the DOE and superintendents in getting the district spring plans submitted and approved, and the priority placed on returning struggling students to the classroom.
Attending the meeting and speaking on behalf of FADSS, Lake County Public Schools Superintendent Diane Kornegay covered several priorities and challenges for Florida district school superintendents.
Superintendent Kornegay expressed gratitude to Commissioner Corcoran and Governor DeSantis for the continuation of Executive Order-07, which provides needed financial certainty for school districts to continue to offer the innovative learning models to students for the 2021 Spring semester. Without the extension of the executive order, school districts across the state would have incurred a deficit to continue offering the innovative learning models option in their district.

Noting that public schools are the cornerstone of every community, Kornegay underscored the point that this crisis has shone a light upon the critical roles that public schools play in the daily lives of our students, their families and our communities as a whole. Many issues that school districts have dealt with over the years have been moved to the forefront because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A continuous and increasing challenge is feeding students. The unintended costs and consequences associated with feeding students must be addressed so that school districts are made whole financially and can continue to provide food for those in need. There is hope that the second round of federal k-12 funds will help mitigate the additional costs incurred through the food service program.
Kornegay also addressed the misconception regarding the status of unspent CARES Act funds. Many stakeholders are of the perception that the funds are not being spent, and therefore, school districts do not need the money. Nothing could be further from the truth. Superintendents developed plans to utilize these funds to meet immediate needs and longer term needs over the 2 years in which these funds have been authorized. Between expenditures and encumbrances, districts have obligated most of their original allocation.
Kornegay closed by requesting assistance and support with the prioritization of school employees in the state vaccination plan. The best thing we can do for our students is get them back in the classroom and engaged with teachers and their peers. Having school employees vaccinated may make parents more comfortable with sending their children back to school and create greater stability in our classrooms while protecting the health of Florida’s educators.
Superintendents Appear Before Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Regarding CARES Act Funding
The first interim Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education meeting of 2021 focused on CARES Act funding. Senate staff requested superintendent participation so committee members could hear first-hand the importance of these funds and the manner in which they were being expended. FADSS President Mike Grego (Pinellas) along with Superintendents Kurt Browning (Pasco), Tim Forson (St. Johns), Ted Roush (Suwanee) and Joe Taylor (Washington) appeared before the committee to provide the superintendents' perspective on CARES funding expenditures and the role these funds have played in helping school districts navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

The superintendents informed the committee members of the wide array of additional costs districts have incurred in response to the pandemic, and how many of these costs will continue for several years. As such, school districts have judiciously used these funds to meet a combination of immediate and longer-term needs and will spend most of their allocations by the end of summer 2021.

Highlighted among these additional costs were those relating to progress monitoring and the associated instructional interventions for struggling students. It will likely take years to erase the educational setback many students have experienced during the pandemic and return to pre-pandemic achievement levels. Mental health and social emotional learning issues, the effects of which will take years to mitigate, were also highlighted.

Senator Tom Wright inquired about the issue of students who have not returned to school in 2020-21. The superintendents informed the committee of measures taken to find missing students and get them re-enrolled in school. This issue complicates planning for the 2021-22 school year as districts make staffing decisions based on current and projected enrollments.

Senator Doug Broxson, Chair of Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, was very complimentary of Florida’s superintendents. He expressed great appreciation for the measures taken to open schools and keep them open.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact David Sikes at 850.577.5784.
In Case You Missed It.....
Superintendent Runcie Urges
Priority Vaccination Status for Educators during
Chiefs for Change Press Conference

Broward County Schools Superintendent Bob Runcie was one of several superintendents across the nation to participate in the Chiefs for Change virtual press conference to urge inclusion of educators for priority vaccine status.

“We have far too many students who are struggling, and I'm very concerned that we could lose a generation of kids if we don't act quickly.”

Adding, “Our schools are essential to the function of our economy. If we are serious about opening our economy, we cannot do that without fully opening our schools.”


CNN Feature: How Miami-Dade Opened all its Public Schools -- and kept them open
In this interview, Superintendent Carvalho expresses familiar sentiments shared by superintendents across the state.

....."There is no substitute, regardless of how great the technology may be," he said bluntly. "You cannot Zoom effectively into a full understanding, a full level of engagement for students."

Carvalho also sees schools as an indispensable safe harbor for children -- academically, physically and emotionally -- even or perhaps especially in the middle of a pandemic...

The December issue of FADSS quarterly Business Partner eNewsletter is rife with relevant articles and information about the products and services FADSS annual business partners provide school districts. Please take a minute to read through the newsletter and also share it with your leadership team and others who may find the information meaningful and relevant.

Thank you to the following companies for their support of FADSS and Florida district school superintendents as
2020-2021 FADSS Annual Business Partners
Florida Association of District School Superintendents
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