Leon County School Board

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Both candidates for Leon County School Board District Two say they would work together with schools to protect the rights of transgender students.

Possible Creation of Woodville K-8 School

Jun 22, 2016
Woodville Middle School

The Leon County School Board is reviewing a proposal made by the Woodville Middle School Board of Directors.The board wants to merge their school with Woodville Elementary.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / flickr.com/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

School districts across the country are struggling to keep qualified teachers in the classroom. Here's a look into what the shortage means for Leon County.

Leon County Schools logo
Leon County Schools

Leon County schools will spend more than $18 million updating and renovating schools and district buildings in the upcoming school year. The dollars will cover everything from new bathrooms to a barber-shop space at Lively technical center.  The biggest chunk of money will go to district-wide maintenance projects that keep schools and buildings operating.

Julie Arasi Is Leon County's Teacher Of The Year

Dec 17, 2015
www.leoncountyschools.net / http://www.leonschools.net/cms/lib7/FL01903265/Centricity/Domain/1684/Arasi.gif

Julie Arasi of Kate Sullivan Elementary is Leon County’s Teacher of the Year.

Leon County School Board Discusses Budget

Jul 28, 2015
The Leon County School Board discusses the budget at its meeting today.
via educationnews.org

The Leon County School Board will take up a proposed budget for the upcoming school year today.

Leon School Board member Alva Swafford Striplin
Alva Swafford Striplin / LinkedIn

Leon School Board members say the Florida Department of Education is downplaying the extent and impact of system outages that affected this year’s Spring exams. And they say they want to be certain the system failures that plagued the rollout of the new computer-based Florida Standards Assessment are fixed.

Former SAIL High School Principal Rosanne Wood is running for Leon School Board, District 2.
Rosanne Wood / facebook

Former SAIL High School Principal Rosanne Wood is gearing up to run for Leon County School Board.  Wood is running for the District 2 seat—currently occupied by Dee Crumpler.

Leon County Schools logo
Leon County Schools

The Leon County School board briefly floated and promptly sunk an idea for an appointed superintendent. It’s the latest conversation in the ongoing legal troubles of the district.

The Leon County School district has joined several others in passing a resolution against standardized testing. Districts around Florida are growing increasingly frustrated with a state mandate for end-of-course exams in all subject areas. In Leon alone, the district is looking at more than 1200 new exams.

LHatter / WFSU News

A sixth investigation into school construction funding practices in Leon County has turned up no criminal wrongdoing. Now the jobs of several district employees trying to claim whistle-blower protections are on the line.

A notebook disseminated earlier this year to various media outlets outlines charges Leon County Superintendent Jackie Pons awarded school construction projects to his political donors. But an examination of the documents by the hired by the school board, has found no direct evidence of that.

Photo from Swafford Striplin's campaign website

Alva Swafford Striplin bested incumbent Forrest Van Camp in the race for the first district school board representative. The veteran teacher looks forward to giving her colleagues a voice on the school board.

At a high spirited watch party Swafford Striplin is counting each vote as her lead over incumbent Forrest Van Camp steadily grows. Striplin says balancing the job of being a teacher while running a campaign has been tough, but well worth it.  She says it’s important for a teacher’s point of view to be represented in all decision making.

Leon County Schools logo
Leon County Schools

The Leon County School Board continues hashing out the details of a nearly $530 million budget for the upcoming school year, but something giving board members heartburn is whether to approve a property tax increase to fill part of the funding plan required by the legislature.

Jackie Pons

Two new whistle-blowers have stepped forward in the Leon County Schools construction controversy. The whistle-blowers are both  Leon County Schools employees.

Sandra Davis, a worker in the Division of Facilities, Construction and Maintenance, filed for whistle-blower protection on June 4. In a letter to Leon County Superintendent Jackie Pons, Davis claims school construction projects have been deliberately undervalued to avoid a competitive bidding process. According to Davis, contracts appear to be awarded to construction companies that made donations to Pons’ campaign.

LHatter / WFSU News

Leon County School district officials are taking aim at what they call “politically motivated” attacks against Superintendent Jackie Pons. The district used a workshop meeting on construction to address allegations Pons steered construction contracts to his political donors.

The Leon County School Board will be discussing the districts policies on construction and maintenance projects tonight.

School board officials will take public comment and talk about how the Leon County District awards construction and maintenance projects to companies. Officials will also discuss how the district chooses what projects it will undertake and which ones it won’t.  

The meeting comes as the district’s superintendent faces accusations he and other school officials steered construction projects to political donors.

A much-anticipated public meeting of the Leon County School Board has been postponed. 

Thursday’s meeting of the Leon County School Board was supposed to be an attempt to explain the district’s policies for awarding construction and maintenance contracts. The workshop comes in the wake of allegations by an anonymous group and current district administrator Rocky Hanna who allege many of the contracts were awarded based on political favors.

The Florida Department of Education and Florida Department of Law Enforcement declined to pursue the allegations.

LHatter / WFSU News

An anonymous group claims Leon County School District officials circumvented state competitive bidding laws in awarding school construction projects to political donors.

The group calling itself "Concerned Leon County School Board Employees and Citizens of Leon County" questions whether Superintendent Jackie Pons broke state law by awarding construction projects at six schools to local contractors who have also made campaign contributions to him.

The Leon County School Board is getting closer to approving a $280 million budget for the upcoming school year.  The board’s Tuesday meeting was aimed at getting public input on the budget, but no one showed up to speak.

"The statutes outline a procedure through which we have to have this discussion a certain number of times," said Board member Dee Dee Rasmussen. "It’s been advertised multiple times in the media...I’ve been interviewed. It’s been in the Democrat, its been on TV, I’ve even put it on facebook."

Leon County teachers could soon be seeing a pay increase.  Negotiations between the district, and the local union are underway as both sides look for a deal.

It’s been more than three years since Leon County school teachers got a pay raise. During that time, the district lost about $100 million due to state budget cuts, and it also closed some schools and shrunk programs. However, unlike other areas of the state, the district managed to avoid teacher layoffs. School board chairwoman Joy Bowen says the negotiations for raises have been a long time coming.

Judge sides with Leon in Charter school case

Jun 1, 2012

An administrative law judge Friday sided with Leon County in a enrollment-related dispute with a charter-school operator. Renaissance Charter School Inc.  is building a multimillion-dollar facility in Tallahassee. It argued the Leon County School Board could not impose a March 1 enrollment deadline on the school. But the district  school board said the deadline was  needed to help plan for staffing.

Iin a 20-page ruling, Administrative Law Judge Barbara Staros said the county's insistence on the deadline does not violate state charter-school laws.

District officials say they’re doing the review to make sure their rules and regulations are in compliance with state and federal education policy, which is constantly changing. Board member Dee Crumpler says he knows the process may seem boring:

“For those that might be at home watching this, this is like watching paint dry. But it is important.”  

The Leon County School system has spent about $270 million dollars on its public schools in the current budget.  And according to district officials, that number is not expected to change much for the upcoming year. Even though Governor Rick Scott touted an extra billion dollars for education statewide, Lynn Hatter reports the impact of that money at the local level isn’t doing much for Leon County’s bottom line.

Leon County School District officials say they expect lower scores next year for the county’s elementary schools. The school board heard a presentation Tuesday outlining changes to the state’s standardized tests and curriculum. Lynn Hatter reports the district says just because scores may be lower, doesn’t mean students won’t be learning.

Leon County School Board Chairwoman Dee Dee Rasmussen says, just because the grades for elementary schools may fall—doesn’t mean students aren’t learning and teachers aren’t doing their jobs.