The Collier County School Board held a regular meeting on Jan. 10, 2023. The meeting agenda is here; the video replay is here.
In this post, I will review and provide background on the only action taken at the meeting: the Board’s approval of modifications to school attendance boundaries. Then I will share the update given to the board on the superintendent search, and the overview the board was given of Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) workforce education offerings. I will close with some observations.
School attendance boundary modifications must be made periodically to alleviate overcrowding in any school(s) as a result of population growth.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2002, citizens approved an amendment to the Florida Constitution that set limits on the number of students in core classes (Math, English, Science, etc.) in the state’s public schools.
Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, the maximum number of students in each core class is:
18 students in prekindergarten through grade 3;
22 students in grades 4 through 8; and
25 students in grades 9 through 12.
When it Happens
All school attendance areas are evaluated on an annual basis. Schools that become extremely overcrowded or under-utilized may be considered for attendance boundary modification. District data pertaining to school enrollment and school capacity is available online.
Boundary modifications are also required when a new school is opened, as will be the case next year with the opening of the district’s first new high school in 19 years, Aubrey Rogers High School (ARHS). It will have 1,887 students and is located at 15100 Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Naples.
School boundary changes require some students to move to different schools from one year to the next if, after modification, their address falls within a different school boundary.
Parents can request that their child be enrolled in another school outside their assigned geographic attendance zone. This is referred to as “parental choice.”
The opportunity to move to a specific school is based on capacity and class size restrictions. Learn more about the parental choice options here.
Proposed Attendance Boundaries
With ARHS opening next year, addressing the need for school boundary modifications was one of the first actions required of the new school board.
Members heard a presentation on a set of proposed boundaries at a special meeting on Dec. 7 and then designated Ms. Lucarelli to work with district staff to improve the proposal on its behalf. Lucarelli is the mother of four CCPS students and has long been involved with her children’s schools. She is passionate and knowledgeable about boundary modifications.
Lucarelli worked with district staff on the revised proposal presented to the Board for approval at this meeting.
With little or no prior notice to the other board members or the public, Mr. Moshier announced that he had another idea that he wanted the board to consider before taking a vote on the district’s proposal. He wanted the decision to be delayed for 30 days, so the board could “workshop” his idea.
Rather than do as he requested, board chairman Kelly Lichter said the board would hear his idea later, in the “New Business” portion of the meeting.
Moshier’s idea was to designate ARHS as a charter school to be operated by Mason Classical Academy (MCA). MCA is itself a CCPS charter school that was founded by and whose current president is Ms. Lichter.
Keith Flaugh, managing director of Florida Citizens Alliance, a nonprofit organization that champions K-12 education reform in Florida, spoke in support of Moshier’s idea. The proposal “is excellent – to turn the new high school into a charter school to be managed by MCA as a classical charter,” he said. “Don’t vote on this [boundary modification] until you have the “New Business” discussion. FCA strongly endorses the … Moshier proposal.”
Several members of the public spoke against Moshier’s idea. And CCPS staff told the board that delaying a decision on the new boundaries would cause the district problems. Specifically, staffing and hiring for the new school would be adversely affected, given certain requirements of teacher contracts and competition for teachers in the region/state in general. And the “parental choice” application period was to open the following day.
Ultimately, the board approved the staff’s proposed boundary modifications by a vote of 4-1, with Moshier in opposition.
Currently, only rising 11th and 12th graders are guaranteed the option to remain at their existing school, and their parents would have to apply for that “parental choice” before Feb. 19. The board asked staff to do everything possible, including a change to board policy, to enable more students who choose to, to stay in their current schools.
Next on the agenda, the board heard an update on the superintendent search from a representative of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA), the district’s search firm.
As reviewed in my last Local News Update, the CCPS superintendent position is in transition. Former superintendent Kamela Patton and the board agreed that she would step down earlier than had previously been planned and Dr. Leslie Ricciardelli was appointed acting superintendent in the interim.
The first phase of the search for a new superintendent, community engagement, began on Jan. 3. Its purpose is to gather perceptions of the school district and the importance of various characteristics found in effective superintendents. This phase consists of a community stakeholder survey and a series of community meetings.
Invitations to participate in a survey conducted by HYA were sent to parents, students, employees, and members of the community (i.e., the stakeholders). The responses will be used to determine the desired characteristics of the next CCPS superintendent.
Through Jan. 10, 1,800 survey responses had been received, which is considered an excellent response rate. More than half of the responses were from parents of CCPS students and almost a third were from CCPS administrators, supervisors, and certified staff. Six percent were from community and business members. For survey responses as of Jan. 10, see here at 3:18:28.
Take the survey here through Jan. 26.
Community and Focused Feedback Sessions
HYA will also seek input through a series of six community feedback sessions of about 45 to 55 minutes in length. They will hold four in-person meetings at local high schools on Jan. 12, 18, and 19, and two virtual meetings on Jan. 19 and Jan. 23. Learn more about these feedback sessions here.
“Focused feedback sessions” will also be held virtually with members of the superintendent’s cabinet, principals/assistant principals, district operations leaders, teachers, union leaders, student leaders, non-profit/business/civic groups, government agencies, and more.
The first phase of the search will conclude with the close of the survey window on Jan. 26. Based on input gathered through the stakeholder survey and focused feedback sessions, HYA will prepare a Leadership Profile Report and Desired Characteristics of the Superintendent which will be presented at a special school board meeting on Feb. 6 at 9 a.m.
After that, the formal recruitment phase of the search will begin.
Candidate interviews will likely take place in April.
Workforce Education in Collier County
Next, Yolanda Flores, CCPS’s Administrative Director, Post-Secondary, Adult & Community Education, gave a presentation on the programs and offerings of the district’s post-secondary career and technical education programs: Lorenzo Walker Technical College, Immokalee Technical College, iTECH-Glades, and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence.
These programs are designed to provide post-secondary training to meet local and state workforce needs and help the state compete in the global economy by building a broadly based, highly skilled, and productive workforce.
Flores’s presentation included the federal and state framework within which the district’s programs are offered and regulated. Funding is based on year-to-year legislative appropriations, and CCPS’s workforce education programs are currently only funded at 86 percent.
In addition to state funding, other funding sources include competitive state and federal grants and community/private funding (e.g., Community Foundation, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation).
Strong partnerships with business and community members are essential to the success of the district’s programs and students. Local business and community partners provide support through advisory workgroups, curriculum reviews, work-based learning opportunities, guest speakers, mentors, scholarships, and donations of program equipment, scholarships, and other funds.
CCPS’s business and community partners include Arthrex, the Collier County Sheriff, Conditioned Air, Excel Electric, Millennium Physician Group, Moorings Park, NCH Healthcare System, and many more.
Following the comprehensive presentation, second-term board members Lucarelli and Erick Carter enthusiastically lauded the program and its many successes. Carter said he is himself a graduate of the program who went on to become a successful local business owner. Lucarelli said that one of her children is also a graduate of the program. Both strongly urged the new board members to visit the program sites and learn more about them.
Observations and Comments
CCPS made huge improvements under the leadership of Superintendent Kamela Patton. See here. In the coming months, the five members of the School Board will choose her successor.
Should that person be a strong administrator who makes data-driven decisions? Should it be someone who is fiscally responsible with prior experience running a complex $1 billion organization? Should she be an educator with experience in the classroom? These are the types of questions about which community input is important.
Please take the time to participate in the community engagement portion of the Superintendent Search described above. At a minimum, complete the online survey before the Jan. 26 deadline. Even better, please also attend one of the in-person or virtual feedback sessions; dates and locations are here.
Another observation: there are strong feelings on both sides of the charter school debate. We are likely to hear Mr. Moshier’s suggestion that CCPS build charter schools to be run by Mason Classical Academy again at some point.
It is important that community members stay informed about developments at the local and state levels of government that could influence this possibility specifically as well as, more generally, the future direction of public education in Collier County.