Flagler School Board Workshop Meeting June 20th 2023

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Tuesday June 20th, 2023,  the Flagler County School board held a informational workshop meeting before their school board meeting later that night. The board heard information on a number of issues including the Flagler Auditorium and moved some agenda items to future meetings.

The floor was opened up for public comment at this point. One commenter said that he was worried about arming everyday citizens to patrol schools and wanted to state he felt it was best to put trained professionals in the schools. He also brought up the book review process where he said the process works so why change it. Another resident came forward to state there is another group pretending to be Moms for Liberty, and they want to warn the board and the parents that this false site is not the real Moms for Liberty.  One resident stated that she feels the county is being oppressed because 3-4 individuals being able to ban books from the school library.  After this speaker, public comment was closed.

The board then heard from a consulting company regarding a legislative update. The presentation is a highlight of a previous meeting. The two brothers, who have been working with the district for 6 years, talked about legislative updates and how the budgets are factored. This new process allows for wage increases, retirement enhancements, teacher certification modifications, career and technical enhancements and more. These changes should assist Flagler County Schools with teacher retention. The consulting duo talked about the importance for mapping out the Boards 2024 session priorities, so that they can work together with the legislative committees to bring as many benefits to Flagler County Schools as possible. Board member Will Furry asked the brothers if there was a list of bills that they worked on getting passed for the benefit of Flagler County; the brothers responded with there is a list that can be sent to the board of those bills.  Vice Chair Coleen Conklin asked the brothers if there was any discussion regarding the tax funding being used to improve private schools that are not tax payer owned. The brothers explained that while there was a discussion on the matter, the legislature ultimately decided that the tax funding should be shared across the board by all schools, private, charter and public. Vice Chair Conklin also asked the brothers to explain HB-1. They stated that essentially this bill means that anyone who is eligible to attend school is eligible to get a voucher. The only limitation to it is to homeschool students; the legislature limited it to 10,000 students the first year, expecting to expand that every year until they encompass all the students who need or want a voucher gets it.  Chair Cheryl Massaro stated that she was happy to see that the budget was increased for mental health coverage, as well as after school funding.

The board then heard a Mental Health update. The presentation was more of a notification, that the upcoming 2023-2024 Mental Health Plan would be coming soon for the board to see and approve. The Mental Health Plan is there to serve students with mental health services. They are waiting for the DOE to release their Mental Health Application; once that is released the mental health plan will be put together for the board to review and approve.

Alternative school program updates was the next item on the agenda. This team looked at the Code of Conduct, Discipline Matrix, and compared it to neighboring counties. They looked for at issues like like hitting, disrespect, misconduct, vaping, tardiness, and more. They also looked at solutions and suggestions on how to handle these issues. One thing that the team noticed was that Flagler County’s Code of Conduct is more comprehensive than other districts. The team shared the Rise Up program that is currently used at both high schools. This program works on building relationships across the whole board, not just in the school itself. The program collects data, offers behavioral supports, helping connect families to services like mental health services drug addictions, GED options, ETC. Each student is evaluated on a case by case basis before they leave the program. This program currently only offers service from 6th through 12th grade. Board member Sally Hunt asked if there was any kind of program similar to this for elementary level students. She stated that the board receives feedback from parents who want their kids to get a good education but their class may have a student who flips desks or has meltdowns. She asked if there was currently any program or any county with a program we could model after to help provide this type of service for the elementary aged children.

The board heard about the Health Clinic Update next. This presentation is on the 2023-2024 Insurance Plan Year, and what that entails. There is a free near-sire health clinic for members of Flagler Schools’ medical insurance plans. The contract is with AdventHealth Prompt Care. Advent has given the district a 6 month extension on the plan so that it expires in March of 2024. They are currently going to be looking for bids for a insurance providers that can provide a similar set up for Flagler Schools employees and their families. The board would have to approve the bids in November. They will be reviewing bids to see the cost difference between near-site clinics vs on-site clinics.

The board then heard updates on the Transportation Services.  The Transportation department looked at the challenges they are currently facing, like the aging fleet. This aging fleet is causing fuel inefficiency and missing safety features. They talked about the Lease Purchase Option which is an option that allows the board to lease the vehicles over a period of years and at the end of that period the district owns the buses. This would help with offsetting the cost of purchasing newer buses, while lowering the maintenance and fuel costs by using newer equipment as stated by the Transportation department. The Transportation department also stated that new buses are under warranty by the manufacturer for 5 years.

The board heard a presentation on the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club.  The goal of the presentation is to put into place a timeline into increasing revenue to the Club. They will be working on a new fee schedule, which the board will be able to vote on in the future. There will be an open house on June 24th and 25th, and they have partnered with Flagler Broadcasting and will be waiving daily fees for that open house event.  They have amended some fee changes per the feedback from the previous school board meeting. According to the presenters these fees will not allow the Club to break even. Board Member Will Furry felt these fees are too low, and the rest of the board agreed.

 

The board heard about the Superintendent Search Timeline. The staff tasked with searching for the new superintendent. They want to have an online survey for the community to find out what the community wants to see out of their superintendent. They will also need to finalize the advertisement for the position of superintendent, in the August meeting. The advertisement would include minimum qualifications, preferred qualifications, salary range, ETC. They are wanting to possibly assemble a Citizens Membership Committee to assist in the search. The committee would hold meetings and follow guidelines in their effort to select a group of applicants they feel are the best candidates for the board to consider. The goal would be to have a projected start date by January of 2024. The board went over the drafted timeline of events and meetings and will need to approve that timeline so that the process can move forward.

 

By Krys DeWind

Krys DeWind has been a Flagler County resident since 2016. She is active in her community and is always looking for ways to better it. She has a community first attitude which is one of the central founding ideals of the Flagler County Buzz.

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