Monday, August 10, 2015

On the Agenda for Tuesday's School Board Meeting

Three items on the Agenda for Tuesday’s School Board meeting should be of particular interest to Collier parents and teachers, because they affect what goes on in the classroom:

  • the CCPS 2016 Florida Legislative Platform,
  • the CCPS 2015–16 Assessment Schedule, and
  • the Blue Zones® Project, a community-based, healthy-living initiative.

In addition, the Board will discuss whether the District should create the new position of Internal Auditor.

In this post, I’ll provide some background on each of these items and explain what you should know about them to be an informed voter.

CCPS 2016 Florida Legislative Platform - Agenda Item E90

Each year around this time, agencies of local government and other interested parties in Florida develop a set of legislative actions they want their elected State House and Senate representatives to take on their behalf in the next state Legislative Session. Organizations present these “Legislative Platforms” to their local “representatives ”Legislative Delegation" at a day-long meeting and public hearing.

Collier County’s Legislative Delegation consists of State Senators Garrett Richter and Dwight Bullard and State Representatives Matt Hudson, Kathleen Passidomo and Carlos Trujillo. This year’s meeting and public hearing will be on Thursday, October 15 (details here).

The Board considered a proposed Legislative Platform for the School District at its July 28 meeting. See my posts here and here. On Tuesday, it will consider and likely vote on a Platform revised to reflect last month’s comments.

The first item in the Platform concerns testing and teacher evaluations, which generated a good discussion last month. As I wrote then, “This may be one of the most important areas of education policy facing [Florida] School Boards and state legislators today.”

As revised, this item provides for greater flexibiliy (i.e. local control) over student, teacher and school-administrator evaluations and student assessments. It reads: The District School Board of Collier County urges the Legislature to:

Extend the transition timeline for full implementation of the new educational accountability system until July 1, 2017 and provide flexibility to school districts that includes an alternative, state-approved, locally developed student and educator (instructional personnel and school-based administrators) evaluation system that measures state standards and is correlated to Florida’s accountability system. Such flexibility must include the valid and appropriate use of new state and local student assessment results for personnel evaluations, performance pay, and school grading. Such flexibility may include alternative assessments, alternative methods of testing including paper-based exams, and/or elimination of Florida’s Value-Added Model (VAM) data as a required component of teacher and school administrator evaluations (s.1012.34, F.S.).

The three additional Platform items are requests for increased funding for specific purposes, noting that:

Through 2013, Florida still ranked in the bottom quintile … in per pupil spending at $8,433 compared to the $10,700 national average. Implementation of state mandates and policy expectations on performance pay [require] adequate funding.

We Collier County voters will want to see whether our elected School Board members support the District’s priorities, and later, whether our elected state representatives supported the actions requested by the Board.

The 2015–16 Assessment Schedule - Agenda Item B6

Last spring, the Florida Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law a wide-ranging Educational Accountability bill (HB 7069) that was in many ways a response to the growing outcry about the number of standardized tests being given in the public schools. Placing more responsibility on local School Boards, the new law requires, among other things, each School Board to approve its District’s schedule of statewide standardized testing and district-required tests. It also requires each District to publish the testing schedules on its website and submit the schedules to the state Department of Education by October 1 of each year.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Board will be asked to approve the District’s proposed 2015–16 Assessment Schedule. Materials provided in advance for public review are:

  • A PowerPoint presentation on the Assessment Schedule Requirements of HB 7069, to be made by Associate Superintendent Luis Solano, and on the proposed 2015–16 CCPS Assessment Schedule, to be made by Dr. Cheng Ang, Executive Director, Assessments, Accountability and Data Management.
  • An easy-to-read chart with information about each of the 2015–16 student assessments, separated between the 10 state-required tests (Florida Standards Assessment - FSA, Florida Comprehensive Assessment - FCAT 2.0, Florida End-of-Course Exam - EOC, and more), four District-required local tests (Pre-Test, Quarter 1 Benchmark Assessment, Quarter 2 Benchmark Assessment and District Post-Test), and seven student self-selected tests for college readiness/acceleration/workforce (ACT, SAT, AICE, AP, PSAT, PERT and industry certification assessments). The chart summarizes, for each test, its subjects, grade level, time allotted, paper versus computer, how results are used, and more.
  • A very helpful Glossary of Assessment Terminology

By requiring Board approval of the testing schedule, the Legislature has given parents, students, teachers and community members an opportunity to give input to the Board before they vote. I am interested to see if the public takes advantage of this opportunity, and if so, what their comments are.

Blue Zones - Agenda Item E2

Last October, NCH Healthcare System, Blue Zones, LLC and Healthways announced the launch of the Blue Zones Project® of Southwest Florida. According to the press release:

The Blue Zones Project® is a major initiative to improve the well-being and longevity of residents of Collier and South Lee Counties in Southwest Florida. The Blue Zones Project brings together citizens, schools, employers, restaurants, grocery stores and community leaders to improve the living environment so healthy choices are natural and often unavoidable. NCH is bringing the Blue Zones Project to Southwest Florida in support of its 10-year vision to make the region an even healthier, happier and more vibrant place to live.

This is an Information Only item, brought forward at Board Chair Kathleen Curatolo’s request at last month’s Board meeting. At that same meeting, Board Member Erika Donalds called the Blue Zones® initiative “a fad.”

I think it sounds like a great idea, and I’m interested to learn more about it at Tuesday’s meeting.

Does CCPS Need an Internal Auditor? - Agenda Item C1

This item, which appears in the District/School Operations section of the Agenda, was requested by Ms. Donalds. Under “Recommended Action” (i.e. what action the Superintendent would like the Board to take on the matter), is simply stated, “Pursuant to Board Member request.”

The District has provided two documents for the Board and public to review before the meeting:

  • A 2-page document listing the three major external audits already conducted at CCPS: Financial, Internal Funds and the state’s Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP), and CCPS’ outstanding performance on the four most recent FEFP audits.
  • An 8-page document listing an additional 135 internal, self-assessment and monitoring audits of various kinds the District currently conducts, many required by State or Federal Departments and Agencies.

Together, these documents make the case that the District’s current audit function is extensive, no doubt costly and time-consuming. If the Superintendent thought there was a need for an Internal Auditor, she would have made that recommendation – but she didn’t. I am interested to hear the discussion, see if a compelling case to hire an auditor is made, and if so, and see how the Board members vote.

Public Input Requested

Last month, the Board asked for input from the community on these matters. I hope you will take the time to consider them and share your thoughts:

Kathleen Curatolo - curatoka@collierschools.com
Erika Donalds - donale@collierschools.com
Kelly Lichter - lichteke@collierschools.com
Julie Sprague - spraguju@collierschools.com
Roy Terry - terryro@collierschools.com
Superintendent Kamela Patton - patton@collierschools.com
The meeting is this Tuesday, August 11, beginning at 5 PM.

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1 comment:

  1. The Blue Zone issue issue seems to have put Donalds in an interesting pickle. Her candidacy and tenure has certainly mobilized a certain group of anti-government community members. She empowers them and makes them feel like she is their window of opportunity into district operations. No doubt her "fad" comment was for them.

    But after asking people on her FB page to provide feedback, she has received both rational, thoughtful comments, as well as comments about how Blue Zones are federal overreach, etc. It will be interesting to see if Donalds is open to rational persuasion, or if she continues to be the voice of the group whose "contract" she signed in her 2014 campaign.

    It will be interesting, too, to see her constituents' response if she goes along with the "big government" Blue Zone initiative (indeed, it's not a big government thing).

    ReplyDelete