FADSS Enewsletter
Message from FADSS CEO Bill Montford
Florida Superintendents Appreciative of Senate K-12 Funding Focus

Hopefully you have seen and read the press release that FADSS issued on Thursday, February 3, acknowledging the Florida Senate and leadership for their K-12 funding focus.

Among the most notable budget items that show the Florida Senate’s commitment to prioritizing quality PreK-12 education:
  • $239 per FTE increase in the Base Student Allocation to provide school districts with much needed flexibility to deal with rising costs and wages;
  • $352 per FTE increase in total FEFP funding;
  • $40 million increase in the Evidence-based Reading Instruction Allocation and $30 million for supplements for educators earning the proposed Early Literacy Micro-Credential to prioritize students reading on grade level by third grade; and
  • $5 million for the Jefferson County School District for successful transition of the school district.
 
I have worked more than 40 years as a former school superintendent, high school principal and teacher and I know first-hand the critical importance of education and clearly President Simpson does as well. Whether it is job creation or quality of life; it all hinges on a good, sound, public education system. And we all know sufficient funding is crucial to that success.

Please continue to reach out to your local delegation. Hearing your needs and concerns first-hand and the impact to your local community is invaluable to providing legislators with the proper context and understanding of the issues they will decide upon.


Yours in Education,
 
Bill Montford
Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level
and then beat you with experience.”
   ~ Mark Twain
Superintendent Spotlight:
Up Close with Orange County Schools
Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins
You boast an impressive 30-year career in public education and are currently in your 10th year as Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) Superintendent. Under your leadership the district has, and continues to, receive numerous accolades and awards including: the prestigious 2014 Broad Prize for Urban Education, which earned half-a-million dollars for student scholarships; the Governor’s Sterling Award in 2014 and 2015; and the Sustained Excellence Award in 2017 for exemplary performance using research-based best practices. To what do you attribute OCPS’ continued success and recognition?
 
I have had the pleasure of working with a stellar school board over the years. Members have been singularly focused on student success and understand the governance role of the school board. Board members have been professional and congenial in their roles. They have been respectful of each other and of me, and make up a widely recognized high-performing board. Secondly, it has been an honor to work with an outstanding leadership team. Those who remain on my cabinet and those who have gone on to become superintendents are incredibly talented individuals that work extremely hard to lead students to success.
 
Prior to taking the helm as OCPS Superintendent, you served as the Deputy Superintendent overseeing five area superintendents and the division of Teaching and Learning, and prior to this served as Chief of Staff overseeing Human Resources, Public Relations, Labor Relations, Strategic Planning, and as the chief negotiator for OCPS. How did these previous positions and experiences help prepare you for the role of superintendent?

These positions sharpened my knowledge of the various functional areas in a K-12 public school system. I must attribute former superintendent, Ron Blocker for his foresight in my development which included instructional and non-instructional oversight. When he recruited me back from Charlotte, North Carolina, he never let on that he had a long-range plan in mind. I didn’t know that he was actually preparing me to take his place as the CEO of a major corporation.
 
What led you to pursue becoming a public school superintendent?
 
Truthfully, Ron Blocker encouraged me to return to OCPS as his chief of staff, and later transitioned me into a new deputy superintendent position. During my first years I had the privilege of participating in the Broad Center training for urban superintendents. Visiting districts across the country, I learned so much about the job and was inspired by impressive district leaders. Arnie Duncan was superintendent in Chicago at the time. So between that inspiration and Ron’s encouragement, I was convinced that I could do the job.
 
OCPS is the 9th largest public school district in the United States and 4th largest in Florida with over 206,000 K-12 students, representing 208 countries and 166 languages and dialects; 75% of students are classed as economically disadvantaged. Given the diverse demographics of OCPS learners, what key initiatives has the district implemented that contribute to the impressive 97.9% traditional high school graduation rate and 90.4% for all OCPS high schools?

Our chief of high schools is largely responsible for this accomplishment. As they enter ninth grade, high school principals and leadership teams monitor each student for being on track to graduate. Then specific interventions are initiated to assist them, including credit recovery, counseling, and individual tutoring. We also have a Multi-Lingual department that diligently monitors data for our ELL students. Our Minority Achievement Office supports efforts to accelerate student learning for subgroups as early as third grade, and sponsor initiatives such as Chess Club and The Calculus Project to boost achievement and motivate minority populations. 
 
What do you feel is the most pressing issue facing public education as a whole?
 
Adequate funding remains the most pressing issue for public education. While the infusion of federal dollars due to the pandemic is greatly appreciated, the funds are temporary. Districts will continue to need sources of recurring money when that source concludes. Dependable and adequate funding will significantly address additional challenges we face.
 
As the current chair of the Council of Great City Schools – a coalition of 75 of the nation’s largest urban public school systems dedicated to the improvement of education for children in inner cities – what are the key issues of focus under your leadership?

Large urban districts have so many things in common. Where there is an inner-city core, most districts are faced with significant issues related to poverty, so we focus attention on interventions to mitigate those issues. There has been a general focus on quality curriculum, narrowing achievement gaps and increasing overall achievement. Recently, two committees have focused on the needs of Black and Hispanic boys and girls based on disturbing national trends. School board development and superintendent training are also a priority, including extensive professional development opportunities. 
 
You have received numerous awards and recognition including: 2017 Florida Superintendent of the Year and finalist for AASA National Superintendent of the Year, 2017 CTE Superintendent of the Year by the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education, 2014 recipient of the Visionary Award by the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council and the Central Florida Woman of the Year by the Women’s Executive Council, and have been recognized for your commitment and positive influence by both the Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Magazine as one of the 10 most powerful people in Central Florida on multiple occasions, to name just a few.

Of all the awards and accolades you have received – is there one that stands out as most meaningful and why?
 
The Broad Prize always stands out for me, because the recognition came from the same organization that invested in my professional development when I first returned to Orange County. The recognition meant that the district was improving student achievement and narrowing achievement gaps at a greater rate than other urban districts in the country. It came with $500,000 in scholarships for our students, which pleased me more than the recognition.
 
If you had the ability to change one thing in the realm of public education – what would that be?

I would stop the hurtful dialogue among various adult factions during these turbulent political times and focus on creating schools where every child feels safe and welcome.
 
Outside of being a superintendent, what is something that your colleagues may not know about you that you would like to share.
 
My family is more important to me than any other fact. I have been married for 35 years to an incredible man, Harold, who has supported my dreams and my career. I have a beautiful daughter, Hillary, who is an attorney in Fresno, California where she resides with her husband Paul who is a pharmacist. My son, Harrison, is a mechanical engineer in Bangor, Maine.

Any additional comments & thoughts you would like to share?

I am always honored to be among my esteemed colleagues, superintendents of Florida and across the nation. Here’s to each of you for your dedication to our youth!
Favorite quote?
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
 
Individual you admire most for their positive impact on public education?
Hard to name just one!
 
Book you are currently or recently finished reading?
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
The State Board of Education Comes to Tallahassee
By Brian Moore, FADSS General Counsel

The State Board of Education (SBE) met in Tallahassee this week. They received updates from FADSS President and Citrus County Superintendent Sam Himmel, Escambia County Superintendent Tim Smith, and Jefferson County Superintendent Eydie Tricquet. 

President Himmel shared with the SBE many of the struggles we are seeing in the districts compared to last year, including instructor vacancy rates nearly doubling, higher teacher absence rates, lower substitute fill rates, and higher student absence rates.  She also elaborated on the extraordinary efforts districts are making to make sure students have a responsible adult in place for them every day to limit further disruptions to instruction. She pointed out that many people may see restaurants and stores closed certain days or reducing hours due to staffing shortages, but school districts do not have that option.

Jefferson County received good news during the meeting when it was announced that Commissioner Corcoran was releasing them from financial oversight effective immediately, which will go a long way in helping Superintendent Tricquet and her board prepare for the next school year. After five years under a charter school organization, the district will need to rebuild from scratch by July 1, 2022.

Finally, the SBE also considered several rule amendments and adoptions. Most important among these was Rule 6A-1.09422, which was amended to extend the old concordant scores for graduation to include this year’s graduating cohort. The new, more restrictive concordant scores will now apply to those who started high school in 2019-20, rather than 2018-19 as initially adopted. This was in recognition of the fact that this year’s seniors are the ones who had their 10th grade FSA canceled and have not had a normal school year since they were in the 9th grade. Several superintendents specifically asked the SBE and Department for this change, and Commissioner Corcoran and the Department continued their demonstration of compassion and grace in responding to the needs of our students during this pandemic.

Good Luck Dr. Patton!
FADSS will be rooting for 2022 Florida Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) Collier County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kam Patton who is one of four finalists for the 2022 National SOTY.
The winner will be announced at AASA's conference in Nashville, TN on Thursday, February 17 during the General Session.
ICYMI
New Website Serves as Water Safety Compliance Resource

The International Swimming Hall of Fame’s website – www.everychildaswimmer.org – was developed as a simple way for districts to find sources to assist in compliance with SB 1028, which mandates that schools provide water safety information and local swim school options to the parents of children entering the school. SB 1028, which created section 1003.225, F.S. on water safety requirements for school districts, is effective beginning in 2022-2023.
 
Through agreements with the following organizations, the website serves as an umbrella website offering the parents connections to all the major providers of swimming lesson and water safety information:
  • American Red Cross
  • YMCA
  • United States Swim School Association
  • American Swim Coaches Association (Swim America)
  • Kiwanis Clubs (some have swim programs)
 
In addition, the website connects to the two-swimming pool industry trade associations, both of which have foundations supporting scholarships for families who cannot afford swim lessons:
  • Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (Step into Swim Foundation)
  • Florida Swimming Pool Association (Florida Swims Foundation)

US DOE Announces New Resource to Assist States in Deploying ARP ESSER Funds

On January 28, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education and its technical assistance partner the National Comprehensive Center released a new resource to help states share their progress deploying the $122 billion American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds.

The ARP Partnership, Assistance, Transformation, and Heightened Support (ARP PATHS) tool invites states to describe the strategies they are implementing that could serve as promising practices for other states and the nation in ensuring that ARP ESSER funds are used appropriately and effectively as intended by the law.

ARP PATHS includes a number of considerations for states as they build capacity and communicate their work to districts and the public. The tool includes six sections that are based on the ARP ESSER state plan application that all states have submitted, and the Department has approved. For each section, states can indicate the implementation status, describe their states' progress, and outline promising practices or impact.

These include topics such as implementing strategies to support safe in-person instruction, incorporating ongoing engagement with parents and other stakeholders, addressing learning loss, meeting urgent staffing needs, and ensuring transparency.


New Survey: How the Pandemic Has Made School Leadership More Stressful

Source: Denise R. Superville | EducationWeek.org  | January 26, 2022

Just how widely and deeply has stress from the pandemic affected secondary school principals?

A new analysis of data gathered last spring found job-related stress falling most heavily on female principals and those leading high-poverty schools. It also found that worries about social-emotional well-being of staff and students was a top concern for school leaders.

“The results are really striking that 8 in 10 principals [said they were] experiencing job-related stress,” said Ashley Woo, the lead author of the new report from the RAND Corporation brief and an assistant researcher at RAND. “This demonstrates that there needs to be more supports for principals as well as teachers.”

The survey took the pulse of 1,686 secondary school principals serving grades 6th to 12th grade during March and April 2021. At that time, school districts were offering a range of learning options, with about 57 percent of students attending school in-person, full time; 10 percent fully remote; and the rest using hybrid models, according to RAND.

Read the full article HERE.
K12 Insight Establishes First Chance Scholarship to Honor Dr. Dawkins

Last year, Dr. Gerald Dawkins — a colleague, coach, and friend to education leaders around the country – passed away. Many of you knew Dr. Dawkins through his role as Senior Vice President of Superintendent and District Relations for K12 Insight – a FADSS Platinum Partner. He was always easy to spot at a FADSS conference by his smiling face, genuine wit, and of course his colorful bow ties.

Prior to joining K12-Insight, Dr. Dawkins had a stellar career in public education, beginning as a teacher and counselor with the Grand Rapids Public Schools and eventually become Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services and then Chief of Staff.

As a teacher, administrator, and longtime superintendent, Dr. Dawkins witnessed firsthand how financial hardship creates roadblocks — especially for students of color. To help provide educational opportunities for African American high school seniors, K12-Insight CEO Suhail Farooqui created the Dr. Gerald & Gwen Dawkins First Chance Scholarship.

You can learn more about the First Chance Scholarship via this link.
Save the Date:
FADSS 2022 Spring Leadership Conference
April 13 - 15, 2022
Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld
Superintendent registration coming soon!
FADSS 2021 - 2022 Annual Business Partners
Be sure to follow FADSS on Twitter [@PublicSchoolSup] and tag FADSS in your district tweets so we can share the great stories and happenings in Florida public schools across our state!
Florida Association of District School Superintendents
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