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HCPS publishes minutes of School Board meetings after Board approval. Although the online minutes do not include signatures, citizens may arrange to review the official documents by completing a public records request with the Communications Department.

901 E. Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa
Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The School Board of Hillsborough County, Florida, met in workshop session January 13, 2015, at 1 p.m. in the Staff Conference Room, 901 East Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, with Superintendent MaryEllen Elia and Board Members Doretha W. Edgecomb, April Griffin, Sally Harris, Carol Kurdell, Melissa Snively, Cindy Stuart, and Susan Valdes present. Chair Valdes presided.

Members Absent:

Others present:

School Board Attorney – Jim Porter

Deputy Superintendents – Jeff Eakins and Cathy Valdes

Assistant Superintendents/Division Chiefs:
     Academic & Federal Programs – Larry Sykes
     Administration – Lewis Brinson
     Business – Gretchen Saunders
     Curriculum and Instruction – vacant
     Facilities – Chris Farkas
     Government Relations – Connie Milito
     Human Resources – Stephanie Woodford
     Information and Technology – Anna Brown
     Student Services – Wynne Tye

Senior Administrative Secretary (Recording) – Patti McBride
Superintendent Secretary (Transcriber) – Lori Woods

Approximately 20 people were in the audience, including other school district personnel.

Chair Valdes called the workshop to order at 2:03 p.m.

(1) Discussion Regarding Legislative Priorities for the 2015 Regular Legislative Session of the Florida Legislature (Government Relations)

This workshop was held to discuss legislative priorities for the 2015 regular Legislative Session of the Florida Legislature.

Connie Milito provided a packet containing the following items:

  • Top three priorities document used by Board members last year before Legislators
  • Central Florida Public School Board Coalition testing document
  • FSBA Legislative document
  • Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition 2015 Legislative Priorities
  • Legislative Conference Report 2014-2015
  • FADSS 2015 Legislative Platform

Ms. Milito made remarks regarding her recent trip to Tallahassee and outlined what to expect within the next few weeks. School boards across the state have direct input in the FADSS document and the Central Florida Public School Board Coalition document. Chair Valdes represents the district on the Central Florida Public School Board Coalition. Today’s discussion revolved around the issues outline in these documents. Board members are involved in meeting with delegation members.

The first week of committee meetings took place last week in Tallahassee. Within the Education Subcommittee, we have three Hillsborough County delegation members (Representative Spano, Representative Raulerson, and Representative Harrison).

There was general discussion by board members and staff to include:

  • Commission Pam Stewart spoke regarding assessment.
  • Parents have been heard across the state.
  • Everything is amplified with the amount of time to implement these tests.
  • If we had a one-on-one environment, we could test in nine days. Currently it takes two months to test.
  • Twenty minutes have been added to each child for each test.
  • Writing has been added for every class grades 3 through 11.
  • Teachers are not aware of content of test and their evaluations are tied to the results.
  • Request has been made to phase in slowly.
  • We have a potential disaster on our hands.
  • Testing is the number one priority.
  • Capital dollars pay for equipment.
  • Our district is well ahead of some districts.
  • Superintendents across the state are working on testing issues and decoupling from evaluation.
  • We are opposed to an unknown test and not having flexibility to work in this environment.
  • It is difficult to sit in a termination hearing with the understanding of how testing is tied to the employee evaluation.
  • Why can’t we have a transition year?
  • Legislators want our recommendation in order to shape the bill.
  • What about PECO dollars? No way of predicting what will happen.
  • GED exit option was changed to a State of Florida diploma.
  • State of Florida diploma allows students to attend community college, some universities, and is recognized by certain military branches.
  • GED exit option was eliminated and replaced with a Performance Based exit program.
  • FCAT changed to FSA’s.
  • GED test is different and more difficult for students to pass.
  • Hillsborough County Public Schools support strong accountability measures for students.
  • State moved ½ mil that the Board levy’s into operating budget due to state dollars drying up during recession. Now we are asking the funds to be moved back into the 2 mil, which is used as local dollars to maintain schools, build schools, buy computers, buy buses, put infrastructure in, etc. This is a tax.
  • Governor is proposing per student, not a base student allocation. He is meeting with superintendents on the January 28, 2015.
  • Categoricals were never restored. (transportation, staff development, technology)
  • Is there a way we can create a matrix for commonalities/differences?
  • We have not had a HCPS legislative document since mid 2000’s. It had reached a point where they did not listen to us.
  • Our district contact for assessment is Sam Whitten.
  • What is the Board’s top priority?
  • Trifold document will be updated with recommendations to provide to our Legislators.
  • Can county demographics be included?
  • Include PECO allocations information in graph.
  • Topics of priority are: assessment, accountability transitions, school construction and maintenance.
  • Connie Milito will provide a list of delegation and committee members.
  • Add "Did you know” statements around the issues on the trifold document.
  • Some school districts do not have cable or internet access; we advocate for all children.
  • Does Florida School Board Association (FSBA) publish a directory? Yes
  • A priority of this Board is to go to Tallahassee as a whole, for scheduled meetings, which may be changed due to session meetings.
  • Tallahassee dates:
         FSBA day of Legislature – March 11, 12, 13, 2015.
         Hillsborough day March 25, 2015.
  • Trifold will be completed within two weeks.

Five minute break at 2:25 p.m., workshop reconvened at 2:30 p.m.

(2) District Website Redesign Update (Information & Technology Division)

This workshop was held to provide an update on the district’s website redesign.
Jason Pepe made remarks regarding the new designed website.

Prior to July 1, 2014, website redesign:

  • Size in excess of 10,000 pages.
  • Updates with little accountability or monitoring.
  • Navigation was not consistent.
  • No target audience.

As of today:

  • Size is reduced by 90 percent and manageable.
  • There is a structured process flow in place for accountability.
  • Navigation is clean and organized.
  • Target audience includes external stakeholders, parents, guardians, students, business partners, students, and other members of the community.

General discussion between board members and staff include:

  • Site-wide statistics of time/page views: monthly – 1.7 million, weekly – 400,000, daily – 77,000.
  • Seventy-five percent of hits come from internal district computers.
  • Employee information moved to a secure area that is password protected; Ed Connect portal and First Class.
  • Home page – consider and monitor clicks (mindful, changing daily).
  • Is application for employment in Spanish? Yes, there are translation features.
  • Board member page changed with secretary contact information and list of schools in each district.
  • Monitor or encourage schools to share successes and pictures.
  • Pictures are rotated every few weeks with one elementary, middle, and high school.
  • Departments are organization comprised of divisions with departments that feed them.
  • Graduation calendar is not listed on webpage.
  • Calendars have subscribe feature for availability to download district calendars into your personal calendar.
  • Would like feedback internally and externally.
  • Communications team has developed an easy flow process for changes that involves the division leaders as a final approver.
  • Experts are the divisions. The division leader will monitor content changes on their webpage.
  • This school year is a year of development. Next year site will be completed.
  • It is important to be given suggestions from division leaders and parents regarding website.
  • A directory will be added in future.
  • Email list that provides weekly newsletter updates is provided in Myspot.
  • Communication plan which is centered on our website and branch out to newsfeed.
  • We do not have an App.
  • Would like links on county/city website to direct to our district home page.
  • Goal is the same for our school leaders; user friendliness, easy navigation, and consistency.
  • PTA involvement is needed.

With no further discussion, the workshop adjourned at 3:21 p.m. (Audio recording on file)

HCPS publishes minutes of School Board meetings after Board approval. Although the online minutes do not include signatures, citizens may arrange to review the official documents by completing a public records request with the Communications Department.

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