Flagler School Board Incumbent Cheryl Massaro Running for Re-election; Discusses Guardian Program, Budget, Transportation, Bully and More

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Cheryl Massaro is currently serving on the Flagler School Board. Massaro has announced her bid for re-election, sitting down with us to discuss the current issues facing the School Board and her plans if re-elected. Massaro spoke to her extensive experience in education, over 40 years.  “I think that is probably the most important thing to understand, the operations of school systems. It’s not like a lot of businesses. It’s not like anything you’ll ever be exposed to unless you’ve lived it or experienced it,” Massaro explained.

When asked what were the biggest issues facing the School District, Massaro responded, “I think the biggest thing right now is the private scholarships, because what’s happening is every time we have scholarships that are going out of the district, we lose a lot of money. We also have the largest population of students, so you don’t want to cut your finances. I am concerned about the accountability in the private schools. Public Schools are held in to an incredible amount of accountability, incredible amount. I mean, testing, they have to have finances, you have to know what’s going on all the time. Private schools don’t have the same accountability, which concerns me for student education. They should all have the same, they should all be the same. Everybody gets the same requirements.”

There has been recent talks about Flagler County Board of Commissioners discussing their share of the Student Resource Deputy funding; we asked Massaro where she stood on this, “This gets threatened just about most budget cycles. It would not be in the commission’s best interest to not support the school’s resource officers or crossing guards; they’re all front end together. That was an agreement that was a partnership that was made years and years ago, and we’ve always supported each other and helped each other. I’d be very surprised if the funding is pulled. It is expensive, and I think that there was some assumption that the school board’s making money on the deal. And we are not. We’re not making money, and I think that’s what might have prompted the conversation. But I think because of the immediate pushback from the community and the families, I would be surprised if it happened.”

The guardian program is also a topic of debate regarding the school system. In her term, Massaro was one of the board members who was not in support of moving forward with it previously. Massaro explained that, “I am always open to discuss it. There are different formats for the guardian program. A lot of people think, okay, you’re just going to hire people and put them in the buildings with guns. It’s not necessarily how it works. Everybody has to have a certain amount of training . I mean, the Sheriff’s office plays a huge role, and it’s a positive role in Guardians. And certainly if we were cut, we would have to consider that ore as a possibility because it is less expensive.”

Many people are currently concerned with the development pace of the county, and with it brings concerns for infrastructure, including schools. Concerns have been noted about school capacities and the need for an additional elementary, middle and high school in Flagler County. We asked Massaro about where the plans stand for new schools; “Every year the school district does what they call a Five Year Plan that has to be submitted to the state. There are potential possibilities for expansions. What you don’t want is to build so fast that in ten more years you start closing schools, and that’s what’s happening right now in a lot of Florida communities that blew up with schools and now they don’t have the students so they’re being forced to close schools that were functional. It’s a timing thing and it’s difficult and it’s expensive because you have to get bonds and support from the state. But yes, we do have plans; I mean we are expanding Matanzas High School right now adding a whole wing. The whole idea of that wing is balance the population between FPC and Mantazas. We need a high school on the west side of the county, so eventually a high school will be built on the west side.”

Bullying is an ever present problem in schools and it’s an issue that will never be solved completely. When asked how she planned to continue her battle against bullying if elected, she told us, “We are never going to beat bullying because unfortunately, it’s a social structure in our society. Now there’s bullying online, there’s bullying by text, there’s all kinds of stuff that’s out there and I think the biggest thing we can do is educating. We have to stay on top of it, we have to stay involved. We already have a good base with the social workers that we have and the social supports that we have in the district with our psychology and all that, so we got to keep pushing that. Our educators are educated on how to handle bullying and that’s the most important thing. This is not going to go away, actually it will probably get worse when they add more ways to communicate.”

Many parents have spoken up about the issues regarding school transportation recently. Many buses are late and often overcrowded. Massaro explained, “We are in the process of getting new buses. Eight new buses are going to be leased to us all at once. So increasing the size of our fleet is very important because just as students need the buses, we need the buses to transport the students in, and we got to keep them going. When we get the new buses, the next big piece of it is transportation organization for the school system. It’s a huge department and it’s not easy. We had lost our transportation person last year and we have a new person in there this year. Hopefully, he’ll stay long enough to get the whole concept down and be able to help where it needs to be helped and make everything work.”

Massaro is the incumbent in this race, running for re-election this year. We asked her what her biggest accomplishment was, “I think the biggest accomplishment was getting a Narcan policy. No school districts in the state of Florida had one, and we’re the first school system to actually adopt and pass the Narcan policy. Now all the other school districts want to see our policy because they’re all getting on the same path, they understand that it’s something that doesn’t hurt; it’s free, it isn’t costing us anything.”

We also asked Massaro what her priority would be if she was re-elected to her seat; “The biggest priority is to focus more on the academics of the district and get away from the social issues. Banning books shouldn’t be a big deal, it is, but it shouldn’t be. We need to be able to focus on the academics more. We also need to concentrate on our budget. We need to keep our budget within a working pattern.”

 

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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