Chronicle Editorial Board gives kudos to Citrus Schools

Chronicle Editorial Board gives kudos to Citrus Schools

40960-16v2This week the Citrus County Chronicle Editorial Board again give high marks for the recent reports of all three Citrus County public high schools included in the Washington Post’s 2017 America’s Most Challenging High Schools list, and Lecanto High School was named in the U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best High Schools in the U.S.

The Chronicle stated, “Another example of the excellent work being performed in our school district“.  The Chronicle went on to say, “The take on this recognition is Citrus County students will be better prepared for college and success in their careers and lives after school.”

The Chronicle concluded with, “We appreciate the dedication to high standards by the district and individual schools; our community is made stronger because of your commitment to excellence.”

Read the whole article at http://www.chronicleonline.com/content/commitment-excellence-delivers-results

National Merit Finalists solves Rubik’s Cube in 15 seconds

National Merit Finalists solves Rubik’s Cube in 15 seconds

Today at our School Board meeting we recognized Citrus’s National Merit Finalists (top 1% in nation). One of these young men, Sasank Desaraju (Lecanto High School), has a unique talent that I asked him to share. He can solve a “mixed up” Rubik’s Cube in less then 15 seconds!

Citrus Schools Summer Break Spot Program

Citrus Schools Summer Break Spot Program

Free summer food service

ev15736_dAS8f_FI_Summer_BreakSpot_iconCitrus County School’s Food and Nutrition Services will again participate in the Summer Food Service Program during the months of June and July. The Summer Food Service Program, also called the ‘Summer Break Spot’ in Florida, is a federal nutrition program that nonprofit groups and schools use to make sure that children in their communities don’t go hungry during the summer when school is out.

Nutritionally balanced meals will be provided free to all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability during summer vacation when school breakfasts and lunches are not available. All children 18 years old and younger are eligible for meals at no charge at an open site and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.

There will be four open sites throughout the county: Lecanto Middle School, Inverness Middle School and Crystal River Middle School. The open sites will be open Monday through Friday from June 1 through July 25. Citrus Springs Elementary School and Rock Crusher Elementary will be open Monday through Thursday. Meal serving times for breakfast are 8-8:45 a.m. and lunch will be served 11 a.m. to noon. All meals must be consumed on site.

The upcoming Summer Break Spot schedule will be available soon on the Citrus County Schools Food and Nutrition Services website at cafe.citrusschools.org. The menus will be available to view on www.Citrus.Nutrislice.com. For more information, call Lora Fredrikson at 352-726-1931, ext. 2451.

Washington Post: Citrus’s High Schools are AGAIN among America’s Most Challenging High Schools 2017

Washington Post: Citrus’s High Schools are AGAIN among America’s Most Challenging High Schools 2017

Today we learned that all three of our high schools in Citrus County were again recognized by the Washington Post as “America’s Most Challenging High Schools”. In addition, all our high schools also saw and increase in their ranking.

Of the approximately 22,000 high schools in the US, about 2,323 are recognized. Rankings are based on the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests, and college level coursework given in a school year divided by the number of seniors who graduate in May. The schools that earn this challenge honor are among the top 12% of schools in the US.

The Washington Post has shared with Citrus County School District’s Director of Research, Amy Crowell how Citrus continues to excel nationally. The publisher shared how Citrus continues to gain the attention Washington Post’s for continually being an outlier with student success with the challenges of being in a rural community with a high number of economically disadvantage households.

Sandra “Sam” Himmel, Superintendent of Citrus County Schools stated, “I am honored to serve for such an outstanding school district. Citrus County schools consistently work to provide the most rigorous curriculum and learning opportunities for all our students. This prestigious recognition is a testament to the continued combined efforts of our elementary and secondary school teams.”

Lecanto High School is now ranked 599 out of 2,323 awarded schools (increase of 213 from last year), Crystal River High School is 1,341 (increase of 335 from last year), and Citrus High School is 1,515 (increase of 646 from last year).

Read Superintendent Sandra “Sam” Himmel Press Releasehttp://thomastalks.org/8IWdb

Follow this link to read more about America’s Most Challenging High School go to: http://apps.washingtonpost.com/local/highschoolchallenge/

Florida Legislature builds a “House of cards”…

Florida Legislature builds a “House of cards”…   

No one wins next, especially not students and schools

party-bosses-smoke-filled-roomsFriday, May 5th, 2017 was the scheduled last day of the 2017 Florida Legislative session.  Going into the Friday it was reported earlier during the day that the budget was not getting done fast enough and so both the Florida Senate and the House mutually agreed to extend session for the budget only until Monday, May 8th, 2017.  The extended session was needed because until Friday at 2:37pm, no specifics were known about the budget.  What is referred to as a “budget conforming bill”.  The conforming language gives the details of the budget the who’s, how’s and what’s of the budget.  What we knew by Thursday was that for public education– $(27.07) less would be funding the Base Student Allocation (BSA).  That equates to about $(300,000) less in funding for Citrus County Schools than last year with more students and mandate than last year.  It appears this will be the first time in Florida’s history that the Legislature will reduce the BSA funding in a non-recession year.  As a result, it was widely reported on Thursday that Governor Rock Scott was seriously entertaining vetoing the State budget.  While extraordinary for the Governor to do, this had also become an unprecedented closed doors/behind the scenes developed State budget.

As bad as all of that, things were about to get worse…

20100717-200902-pic-28968874_6113399_ver1Friday evening both the Senate and House chambers were scrambling finalizing and passing legislation before the end of the session.  Some bills were good, some less so, and some mixed.  Then about 8:30pm, Friday evening something unexpected and unprecedented happen–  The Florida Speaker of the House and other Legislators procedurally rolled nearly all the educational bills this 2017 session, along with many controversial educational bills together into one enormous Education Conforming Bill – HB 7069.  Even many bills which had been amended to remove poor language had come back in this monstrous bill.  To give a perspective of the size and magnitude of this bill.  Think of any recent “train bill” as being a small model train placed next to a full-size train.  Politico is reporting, “Legislative leaders plan to tie nearly 600 pages of education policy to Monday’s budget vote”.

Why do this?

It appears that this was strategically planned in advance to make it near impossible for Legislators to amend the budget before it would be voted on Monday.  By doing this it means everything must pass or fail with now revisions.  While Legislative leaders have denied any political strategies in doing this, it seems to have also been planned to make it hard for the Governor to veto the budget without the entire Florida budget and bills collapsing on itself.

Is this representative governing?  Is this what we expect of our Legislative leaders?  This was to have been the most open and transparent legislative session in Florida history– instead it turned into one of the worst backdoor-secret deal making session in the history of Florida.

We can say, “we’ll remember this next election” but the truth today is if this passes for Florida and Florida’s students the damage will have been done.  Students and schools will suffer because of this legislative session.

We must wait until Monday to see where this all goes.  Please PLEASE contact our Florida Legislators NOW and tell them to fix this! To use any means available to stop this from taking place.

Follow these links to contact our State Senators and State Representatives.

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So far what we know is in the EDUCATION CONFORMING BILL – HB 7069

Comprehensive Education Conforming Bill Will Be Up for Final Passage on Monday  – All out effort to kill the bill!  Call your senator this weekend – this is a bad bill for districts and Local Governments

The bill is 278 pages including multiple changes to current law including –

  • Bad language redirecting Title I
  • Schools of Hope
  • Best and Brightest
  • Capital Outlay sharing with Charters
  • Pre-empts Local Governments from doing impact studies re: locating Charters.
  • Clarification of Cost Per Student Station Requirements
  • Exemption of Special Facility Construction Payback from Charter Capital funding
  • Language on 300 Lowest Performing Schools
  • Creation of Small Isolated Elementary School provision
  • Provisions relating to teacher bonuses
  • Updating language relating to Sparsity that has been used in past few years
  • Provision relating to use of Digital Classroom funding
  • Clarification of funding for Federally Connected Program

Florida Senate passes education testing bill– moves back to House

Florida Senate passes education testing bill– moves back to House

Time is running out…

On Thursday, the Florida Senate passed a large educational train bill.  While this bill had hoped to significantly reduce the state mandated assessments students must take, in the end the bill only eliminates one assessment, the Algebra 2 end-of-course (EOC) exam.  The bill will also ask the Florida Department of Education to study by January 1st, 2018 in national exams, such as SAT or ACT, can be used as alternatives to the Florida Standards Assessments and other statewide mandated assessments.

CaptureIn the end I concur with Senator Montford when he said on the floor of the Florida Senate Chambers on Thursday, May 4th, 2017, “Is this bill what I wanted? No. I wanted more, but … I know that, at least, this is a good beginning“.

One of those positive parts to this bill is Senator Mayfield and Rep. Ralph Massullo, M.D. bills which will allow students the participate in two seasons of interscholastic high school sports (varsity and Jr. varsity) to have their athletic participation count as their required physical education credit, rather than take an addition P.E. class.  This will provide more equitable options for athlete students, it also provides students with addition elective options and flexibility.

Next the bill will move back to the Florida House of Representatives and House members could make further changes. Identical language must be approved by both chambers before the end of floor sessions on Friday in order for the bill to be sent to Gov. Rick Scott.

Stay tune…