Lots of interest on Tuesday’s School Board agenda

As in the past, springtime in Naples brings packed CCPS School Board agendas with much for parents and interested community members to be aware of. In this post, I’ll share the items I’m most interested in from the agenda for this coming Tuesday’s meeting.

Consent Agenda

Approval of New Charter School: BridgePrep Academy Collier County – Item B10
BridgePrep of Collier County plans to open in August with 348 students in grades K–6. It projects, at full capacity, 1000 students in grades K–8. The school is managed by S.M.A.R.T. Management, a Miami-based for-profit charter operator. According to the charter application, its mission is to immerse students in Spanish alongside traditional English-language classwork. If approved as expected, this will be CCPS’s sixth charter school.

Approval of Course Additions – Item B30
For 2016–17, the District is requesting approval to add 14 courses to the curriculum:

Approval of Articulation Agreement with Florida SouthWestern State College – Item B31
The District seeks approval of a partnership with Florida SouthWestern State College through which eligible students can enroll part- or full-time in college-level courses during their junior and/or senior years of high school. The agreement provides opportunities for dual enrollment (high school and college), early college admissions, a combined high school diploma and Associate degree, advanced placement, the College Level Examination Program (in which a student can get college credit by passing a nationally-standardized subject area exam), the International Baccalaureate Program (IB), and the Career Pathways Program (which helps prepare students for Associate Degrees and Technical Certificates).

Unfinished Business

Approval of the 2017–19 CCPS Strategic Plan – Item B15
I think the proposed 2017–19 CCPS Strategic Plan is terrific. I first wrote about it in March, and my letter to the editor about it was recently published in the Naples Daily News.

But the junior Board members found quite a few things about it to challenge at last month’s Work Session, none of which was supported by the senior Board members. Specifically, they:

  • Disagreed with the order in which the seven Plan Goals are presented.
  • Did not like having middle and high school students document their “reflections” about their experiences in a digital platform (similar to a digital diary or journal). (Goal 2 College and Career Readiness). One junior Board member called it “creepy.”
  • Proposed that STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) should not be a stand-alone goal, but rather should be incorporated into another goal. (Goal 3)
  • Argued that the Plan target an increase in the percent of students scoring level four or higher on statewide assessments; the proposed Plan targets an increase in students scoring level three or higher. (Goal 5 Student Achievement)
  • Disagreed with the use of District funds to “develop communication tools highlighting Collier County Public Schools for the District and the business community to recruit and retain employees/employers to the region.” (Goal 7 Communication and Community Engagement)

I expect the proposed Plan to be approved at Tuesday’s meeting.

First Reading: Policy 8710 Insurance – Item C3
In the interest of requring only financially significant settlements to be approved by the Board, this policy gives the Superintendent authority to settle lawsuits on behalf of the District up to $40,000. It was discussed at length at last month’s Board meeting, and is now back with revisions as a First Reading.

During public comments last month, parent-attorney Steve Bracci, who has sued the District and Superintendent on several occasions and has been involved in at least one settlement, challenged the process by which the Superintendent reaches settlement decisions, claiming it violated Florida’s “Sunshine Law.” Board General Counsel Jon Fishbane stated that he had researched the matter and concluded that it did not.

Unsuccessful in their efforts to completely deny the Superintendent settlement authority, the junior Board members asked for a formal process, now included in the policy, by which the Superintendent will report back to the Board on any settlements.

With all the time and effort expended on this matter to-date, I hope the policy will be allowed to move forward to a Second Reading.

First Reading: Policy 2262 Before and After School Child Care – Item C4
This policy is being revisited because the District will soon begin requesting bids from after school care providers for the upcoming three-year period. It was debated at length at the April 19 School Board Work Session and is returning for a First Reading.

At issue is the extent of parental involvement in the selection and retention of after school care providers. This is the issue that gave rise in 2013 to the formation by Erika Donalds, now a junior Board member, of Parents ROCK, a parents group frequently critical of the District.

It is important to note that there is no state or federal law that requires the District to provide after school care.

The revised policy provides specific opportunities for input by parents during the course of the program, and during the final year of the contract of an existing program, provides that “principals will seek parental input through the School Advisory Council (SAC) prior to making any decision regarding a change in program provider. The principal will then make the decision he/she believes is in the best interest of the school.”

It will be interesting to see if this policy continues to be debated, or if it moves forward to a Second Reading.

Approval of District Participation in the Blue Zones Project – Item E3
Readers may remember my past posts about the opposition to Blue Zones by the junior Board members and their followers. One of my favorites is “Learnings from a lawsuit and a text message” (November 12, 2015), describing Mr. Bracci’s lawsuit claiming that the Superintendent violated Florida’s “Sunshine Laws” by participating in Blue Zones steering committee meetings.

Over the objection of the junior Board members, four schools participated in a Blue Zones Project Pilot Program during the 2015–16 school year and have been successfully validated as Blue Zones Project Approved schools. I expect this item to pass without the support of the junior Board members.

New Business

Approval of the Capital Improvement Plan for 2017–2036 – Item C173
The Capital Improvement Plan identifies and proposes funding for projects and services related to facilities, real property, technology, maintenance, transportation, security, and health and safety. It forecasts 5, 10 and 20 year needs. Of note in the Plan:

  • Elementary and middle school enrollment is not projected to exceed capacity within the next five years.
  • High school enrollment is projected to exceed capacity by the 2019–20 school year, so a permanent addition at an existing high school and a future new high school are planned.
  • In view of these capital needs, the referendum millage in the General Fund will be phased out and the Capital millage will be restored.

Approval of the 2017–18 Academic School Calendar – Item E2
Highlights of the proposed calendar include:

  • First day of students = August 16
  • Thanksgiving break = November 22 – 24 (Wednesday – Friday)
  • Winter break = December 22 – January 3
  • Spring break = March 12 – 16
  • Last day of students = May 31

The District surveyed 825 community members, including 447 parents, about the proposed calendar. For the survey questions presented, 62 percent or more respondents said they like the proposed dates.

I applaud the District for bringing this item forward earlier than in the past. It reflects a sincere desire to give employees, parents, students and the community even more time to assist them in making vacation and other plans. Also to be commended: a recommendation will be made during the 2016–17 school year for the 2018–19 calendar, beginning the process of having calendars in place two years in advance.

This post addresses just some of the items on a very long agenda that contains quite a few controversial topics. I fear another very long meeting. Consider taking a minute to thank the School Board members and Superintendent for all they do for Collier’s students:

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

Help me reach more Collier County voters by sharing this post with your friends. You and they can subscribe to Sparker’s Soapbox by email at www.sparkers-soapbox.blogspot.com, “like” me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sparkers.soapbox or follow me on Twitter @SparkersSoapbox.

Scroll to Top