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Board set to tackle chock-full agenda

The marathon School Board meetings, set to begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday, will touch on everything from staffing to spaghetti dinners.

By BARBARA BEHRENDT

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 6, 2001


INVERNESS -- School Board members will be pulling out the extra-soft cushions and firing up the big coffee pot for Tuesday's marathon meetings where virtually every hot topic the board has tackled in recent months will be on tap once more.

The agenda is so massive that Chairwoman Patience Nave will start the session at 8 a.m. and the board could still be at it 12 hours later.

The start-up time also could pose a problem: That's the same time that two of the five board members are supposed to be somewhere else.

The county's Value Adjustment Board, made up of two School Board members and three county commissioners, meets Tuesday morning to hear citizens who dispute their property values. This meeting, however, is to provide information to the new members and only one school board member needs to attend.

As of Friday, it was unclear who it would be. Board members Ginger Bryant and Carol Snyder are on the VAB, and both said they weren't sure what they will do.

Here is the schedule for topics the School Board will take up:

HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAMS AND FACILITIES: The workshop begins with a discussion on the district's high school academies by Tom Curry, director of curriculum and instruction.

The district has academy-type programs in each of its three high schools and a charter school, the Academy of Environmental Science. Officials have discussed adding a teaching academy to Citrus High in 2002.

The board has talked about ways to get students into the programs they want. They must overcome a problem: all three high schools are at capacity and overcrowded schools do not accept students from outside their attendance zones.

At 9 a.m., the board will hear from Innovative Management Counselors, the consultant hired to examine demographics and recommend ways to handle the high school overcrowding. The are expected to present a detailed study of the high schools, the Renaissance Center and the Withlacoochee Technical Institute.

The recommendations will be part of the board's discussion as the district prepares its construction budget priorities over the next several months.

ADMINISTRATIVE SHUFFLE AND FINDING REPLACEMENTS: When the regular meeting starts at 4 p.m., Superintendent David Hickey's sweeping changes in his administrative staff will be formally accepted by the board.

Previously, Assistant Superintendent Linda Kelley urged the board to eliminate the so-called five-year-experience cap for administrators. The cap has made it difficult to find administrators to fill open positions because it limits to just five years the amount of experience they can bring with them for pay purposes.

For long-term assistant principals and others, the cap could mean that a promotion into a new category of job would mean a cut in pay.

District officials are worried about filling nine open positions, including director of planning, director of personnel, coordinator of student services, two assistant principal jobs at Crystal River Middle School, the assistant principal at Homosassa Elementary School, principal at Citrus Springs Middle School, principal at Citrus High School and principal at Crystal River High School.

Hickey is also seeking board approval to fill the jobs of his two executive director positions with Mary Curry and James Hughes, who would be director of management services and director of support services respectively.

BANNING DOOR-TO-DOOR FUNDRAISING: At 6 p.m., the board will conduct a public hearing and consider final approval of a policy to ban door-to-door fundraising sales by elementary school students. The policy will continue to discourage such sales for older students.

The policy was proposed to make fundraising activities safer and board members have suggested that they would like to see more fundraisers which would promote family-type activities such as spaghetti dinners rather than strict sales of products.

The new policy also would give the principal responsibility for approving most fundraising activities, taking the responsibility off the superintendent's office.

CODE OF CONDUCT: After that discussion, the board will hold a final public hearing on the Code of Conduct for the 2001-02 school year. The document, which outlines the school system's disciplinary rules, includes few changes from the previous year's code.

There was discussion of changing the language in the dress code for the length of shorts and skirts from must be mid-thigh or longer to should be mid-thigh or longer. Board members were concerned that some students might take that change to mean that the length was merely a suggestion and not a requirement.

RECOGNITIONS AND PUBLIC INPUT: Since Tuesday's meeting is the last of the school year, numerous special recognitions also are set for the session, including recognition of the State Science and Engineering Fair winners, the Math Field Day winners, winners of the Vocational and Industrial Clubs of America statewide competition and winners and competitors from the Future Business Leaders of American state contest.

Another item on the agenda is the adoption of a proclamation stating that May is "Civility Month," a request made to governments across the state by the Florida Bar Association.

Civility likely will be discussed from another vein as well at Tuesday's session.

The School Board recently approved new guidelines for public input which outlaw profanity and insults. Board Chairwoman Patience Nave has said the the new guidelines are aimed at people like Dunnellon community activist Charles Schrader, the pagan who has often criticized Nave and the board for continuing Christian prayers at board meetings.

Using the newly approved policy, Schrader followed procedure to ask for more than the usual three minutes of time allocated at the meetings for public comment. Such permissions have, in the past, been routinely approved by the chairman.

Schrader, however, got notice last week that his request had been denied by Nave.

Citizens can address the board about any item on the agenda for three minutes at a point after all the recognitions and presentations are done. Other times are set for public input at 5:30 p.m. and at the very end of the meeting and at those times, the topic can be items on the agenda or not on the agenda.

At a glance

The Citrus County School Board meets Tuesday at 8 a.m. Among items on the agenda are stopping door-to-door fundraising and recognition of recent student achievements.

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