Message from
FADSS CEO Bill Montford
FADSS 2021 Virtual Spring Leadership Conference Offers Robust Content, Professional Development & Camaraderie
The FADSS 2021 Virtual Spring Conference is fast approaching, and I think you will be very pleased with the content, connectivity, and overall professional development during this 2-day event.
I fully acknowledge that a virtual training can never replicate the connection and camaraderie of a face-to-face meeting. However, the fundamental core of FADSS Leadership Conferences has always been to provide high caliber professional development training along with the sharing of best practices and resources among Florida superintendents. That focus has not deviated or wavered – and in some respects has actually broadened through the increased accessibility of the virtual platform.
The Event Owl virtual format affords every superintendent the opportunity to participate regardless of location or other obligations, without having to leave their district. Another positive benefit is the inclusion of district leadership teams, district staff and school-based administrators in the FADSS trainings. We strongly encourage you to invite any district and/or school-based staff that you feel could benefit from the sessions during the 2-day conference.
FADSS staff, along with a superintendent Design Team headed by FADSS President Mike Grego, have been working diligently to plan a robust virtual conference that will provide you with high-quality professional development, sharing of best practices, and substantive networking opportunities.
In addition – we are launching the FADSS Event Owl App which allows for easy access to, and participation in, the conference from any mobile device. We will be sharing more details about the Event Owl App, conference sessions, and opportunities to climb the Leaderboard in a special Spring Conference Enewsletter on Friday, March 19.
I firmly believe that the strength of our Association is the trust and personal/professional admiration superintendents have for one another and the camaraderie, support and sharing of best practices. While there is no doubt this can best be accomplished through face-to-face interactions, I am confident that your time investment in the FADSS Virtual Spring Conference will reap personal benefits for you and your staff.
I know we will all be back together in-person and learning from and supporting each other in the very near future. Until then, I look forward to seeing you at the FADSS 2021 Virtual Spring Conference kick-off on March 24!
Superintendent Spotlight
Up Close with Bay County Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt
What led you to pursue being a public school superintendent?

I really enjoyed my experience in public school. My teachers and my coaches were my role models back then and some are still around coaching, leading and teaching even today. I know for sure that the opportunities I have had are the direct result of the investment in me made by my teachers and coaches. It’s truly an honor to be able to support our students, teachers, coaches and other employees today.
What do you feel is the most pressing public education issue in your district?

The most pressing public education issue in our district is our continued recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Michael which has been further hampered by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our students, and their families, are still struggling to just get back on an even keel and that has far-reaching impacts on our district. Hungry students cannot learn and those who are worried about where they may be sleeping at night cannot focus on the lesson at hand. Between those very real concerns and the challenges our employees are overcoming themselves, it’s been difficult to remain focused on teaching and learning.

What do you feel is the most pressing issue facing public education as a whole?

As a whole, I think public education has become politicized and I know that’s had a detrimental effect. We need a collective realization that benchmark testing serves a valuable role in informing instructional practices but it should never be used punitively. You can see from this article that some very famous people failed the bar exam, for example, but they persevered and went on to have stellar careers. Our students, and our educators, deserve a seismic shift in the utilization of test scores and they need our support sooner rather than later.

What is an innovative/impactful initiative in your school district that you are most proud of during your tenure as a superintendent?

There are two initiatives that I am most proud of when I reflect upon my tenure. First, we’ve achieved an exponential growth in the area of technology in instruction. Our teachers have access to the very best technology possible and we’re constantly planning, and pursuing grants, to ensure their equipment remains state-of-the-art.

I’m also very proud of the improvements we’ve made in the areas of school safety and the wellness of our students and employees. While Hurricane Michael forced our hand in the wellness department, I think the improvements we’ve made are sustainable and needed given all that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought into our world. Ensuring students and staff have access to on-campus licensed mental health professionals is a huge accomplishment for our district. Likewise, ensuring the physical safety of those same groups via the presence of well-trained, professional law enforcement officers on every campus is also notable. The safety of our students is, and always will be, our number one priority.

What do you feel is/has been the most challenging aspect of continuing to provide quality education services to students in a COVID-19 environment?

Covid-19 has reminded us that our focus on mental health support and the wellness of all stakeholders will continue to be a priority long after the hurricane damage has been repaired. We cannot overstate the impact Covid has had in our community with job loss, income reduction and increased instability but we know that we must be prepared to address all of those in our schools if our teaching and learning is to be successful. I did not ever think I would have to be prepared to meet the challenges of a global pandemic but I could not be more proud of our response. No doubt, our ability to meet the increased mental health demands of a global pandemic was assisted by the layers of support we’ve had since Hurricane Michael. Regardless, we are grateful to be able to meet these challenges every day.

What are the most challenging barriers at this time in meeting the educational needs of students?

The most challenging barrier right now is the shortage of employees from certified educators to trained administrators to willing paraprofessionals and other support employees. Nationally, education institutions are seeing a continued decline in the number of students in their teacher prep programs and we see that locally as well. Ultimately, these are funding issues. Unless and until Florida’s educational system is fully funded on par with those in other states, we will continue to lose quality educators, administrators and support staff to other places with higher salaries. Without qualified staff, we cannot hope to move our system forward.
If you had the ability to change one thing in the realm of public education – what would that be?

I would depoliticize the entire process and ensure that every decision made is focused on doing the very best we can for our students. I think there needs to be an acknowledgement that public schools, the non-charters which accept ALL students regardless of where they are on their educational journeys, open doors for our children and that public schools are critical to the success of our state and our country. I believe completely in school choice but I also see, every day, the impact that charter schools have had on our public schools. Unwittingly, in many cases, we are creating a divide for some students and that hurts my heart.
What do you see as the biggest threat to traditional public education and why?

Essentially, there seems to be a perception that everyone who has attended school is an expert and that all of the complexities of public education can be boiled down to a few bullets and some talking points. Those who have really “walked the walk,” however, know that public school today is NOT the public school of 30 years ago and our missions and visions have had to change as a result of societal changes (some good, some not so good).
What is your proudest accomplishment as a superintendent?

I have the privilege of leading a system that is truly committed to the “whole” child and one that believes, to its core, that our collective well-being is important to our district and critical to our community.
Outside of being a superintendent, what is something that your colleagues may not know about you that you would like to share.

I won a disco contest in 1979! That’s something sure to bring a smile to the faces of those who know me, BUT it’s not something to share with my Southern Baptist preacher!
Any additional comments & thoughts you would like to share?

God has blessed me in a plethora of ways. I truly should not be alive today and so I consider each day as a gift and I believe that I’m here to help others which is something I strive to do every day.
Road to the Superintendency:
Bill Husfelt started his career in public education in Bay County in 1982. During that time, he taught economics, government, computers, social studies, and history; served as assistant principal and principal for 12 years; and was elected to his first term as superintendent 2008.
Bay County Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt with his most ardent supporters - his family - upon winning re-election to a 4th term in August 2020.
Words of Wisdom:
Over the years I have learned that the most important thing we can do for our children is to provide them with an education that prepares them for their future.
Be on the Lookout...
for a special edition FADSS 2021 Virtual Spring Conference Enewsletter on March 19.

It will include detailed session overviews, links to resources, FADSS Event Owl App info, the Leaderboard contest, and general information
on how to MAXIMIZE your virtual conference experience.
ICYMI - News of Interest
Source: | Zach Stanton | March 11, 2021

Not every piece of misinformation is consequential, says Kathleen Hall Jamieson. Here’s how to know which ones are.

Source: The74 | David Osborne | March 10, 2021

Source: MIT News Office | Daniel Ackerman | March 10, 2021

A new method called tensor holography could enable the creation of holograms for virtual reality, 3D printing, medical imaging, and more — and it can run on a smartphone.

Source: K12Dive | March 10, 2021

The impacts of a pandemic that disrupted school from the ground up and the nation’s reckoning with systemic racism will be felt in education for years to come.

Source: Gallop | Megan Brenan | March 11, 2021

Source: | Benedict Carey  | Feb. 23, 2021

 During the pandemic, suicidal thinking is up. And families find that hospitals can’t handle adolescents in crisis.
Four Florida School Districts Participate in Impact Florida's Professional Learning Practices Cadre
FADSS is proud to partner with Impact Florida and pleased to share the news about their most recent cadre. Impact Florida launched its fifth learning cadre as part of its Districts for Impact initiative, focused on sharing and promoting promising practices across districts. Four Florida school districts will participate in the cadre, focused on strengthening professional learning practices: Hillsborough, Pinellas, Osceola, and Sarasota.
Between March 2021 and November 2022, the districts in the Professional Learning Cadre will learn to identify and disrupt inequitable systems and policies related to instructional materials implementation and share best practices and learnings with other districts to facilitate change management and the sustainability of this work. Teams of key leaders from each district will be supported in how to better understand the complexity of student identities and more intentionally create equity and access for all students.
“On the heels of the adoption of new instructional materials in English Language Arts, investing in thoughtful professional learning is a non-negotiable action for improved student outcomes,” said Impact Florida President Mandy Clark. “This Professional Learning Cadre provides districts a place to work together with national experts and each other to ensure equitable and effective implementation of these new materials.”
The new cadre is supported by the Helios Education Foundation and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and builds on learnings from Impact Florida’s High-Quality Instructional Materials cadre, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. TNTP, a national education nonprofit organization, will partner with Impact Florida in providing support to participating districts.
Impact Florida has become known for connecting education leaders to support them in strengthening teaching in their respective districts by scaling best practices and driving for increased equity. Impact Florida cadres currently span 18 school districts that teach over half of the states’ public schools student population.
FADSS Business Partner Webinar Spotlight

Join FADSS Platinum Partner Naviance by Hobsons
for a timely and informative webinar on:

Preparing Students for the Future:
A Roundtable Conversation on Work-Based Learning

March 17, 2021 | 2:00 p.m. EST

Career readiness and workforce development experiences are vital to ensuring students are prepared for their futures.
In this, you will hear from educators and industry experts on how schools and districts can implement effective methods to provide students with work-based learning opportunities that will prepare them for their future career goals.
FADSS Legislative Updates
FADSS Legislative Updates are a weekly comprehensive overview of legislative committee meetings throughout the Florida Legislative Session. The weekly update is emailed directly to every superintendent and their administrative assistant every Friday from FADSS General Counsel Brian Moore.

If you missed an issue or want to refer back, the Legislative Updates are archived on the FADSS website and can be accessed here.

THANK YOU to all the
2020-2021 FADSS Annual Business Partners
for their support of FADSS & Florida district school superintendents
Florida Association of District School Superintendents
208 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301