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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, August 16, 2016

The School Board of Hillsborough County, Florida, met in workshop session  August 16, 2016, in the Staff Conference Room #283, 901 East Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, with Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Board Members Doretha W. Edgecomb, April Griffin, Sally Harris, Carol Kurdell, Cindy Stuart, and Susan Valdes present.  Chair Griffin presided.

Members Absent:  Melissa Snively

Others present:

School Board Attorney – Jim Porter

Chief of Staff – Alberto Vázquez, Ed.D.
Chief of Schools, Administration – Harrison Peters

Assistant Superintendents/Division Chiefs:
            Academic Support and Federal Programs – Tracye Brown
            Leadership and Professional Development – Tricia McManus
            Teaching and Learning – Elizabeth Agresta

Chief Community Relations Officer – T.G. Taylor
External Communications Manager – Tanya Arja
Senior Administrative Secretary (Recording) – Patti McBride

News Media Representatives:
            Bay News 9

Chair Griffin called the workshop to order at 9:08 a.m.

Approximately six people were in the audience, including other school district personnel for workshop topic #1.


Provide Update on the Skills Gap Analysis (Workforce Connections)


This workshop was held to provide an update of the progress made to meet objectives identified in the Skills Gap Analysis Report.


Superintendent Eakins made brief remarks regarding the "soft” skills gap; prior skills gap discussion was more on the "technical” side.


Warren "Scott” Brooks, Workforce Connections Officer, provided a Power Point presentation addressing the "soft” skills gap, which includes ability to communicate, work ethics, initiative, interpersonal skills, and teamwork – all are critical in developing a strong workforce.  Discussion included:

  • Middle school curriculum integration
  • "Skills to Pay the Bills” course developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to address the needs of basic workplace soft skills – short video shown.
  • Secondary industry specific lesson development – career tech programs have advisory boards to help drive standards; identified teachers to meet with advisory boards to develop industry specific, soft skills lesson plans.


A short video, produced by Strawberry Crest High School, was shown – upcoming districtwide soft skills gap video competition between TV production classes, which are now under Career/Technical.  Top three videos will be selected and shared with sites (elementary, middle, high) over their morning shows.


Chris Jargo, Director of Career and Technical Education, discussed:

  • Go2Work Tampa Bay program to prepare students for the workforce, including soft skills workshops and a centralized website to view job postings around Tampa Bay:  Workshops focus on job searches; resume writing, and interview skills.
  • Upcoming job fair events include:  Build Tampa Bay, Plant City Future Fair, Construction Career Days, and National Academy of Finance (NAF) Intern Day – students learn to approach strangers for a job and present themselves as the best person for the job (well prepared) – some students hired on the spot. 


There was general discussion to include:


  • Consider scheduling people to discuss the importance of soft skills at the great American Teach-In, not just talking about technical side.  "Soft” skills should be considered "life” skills. Ask Great American Teach-in participants what skills are missing.
  • Use school morning shows as a way for the entire school to get a snippet of these skills. Remember diversity is a critical piece of this, especially if a library of videos will be kept. Suggestion was made to videotape mock interviews - let students see how others see them, critique themselves.
  • Soft skills should be considered in elementary – weave into the child’s education from beginning to end; teaching great social /health skills important for middle school.   Learning skills of being polite, etc. – underlining courtesy environment has been lost in high-stakes learning environment.  Getting back to the basics are important at an early age.
  • Disconnect between our schools/programs and partners – need to reconnect to the business community – businesses not aware of programs offered in schools.
  • What are we doing to make sure we are at the table and working with USF (tech grant) – commitment from district to make sure our students are prepared to walk into high paying tech jobs?  Scott Brooks and Larry Plank working together with USF – help get students ready to go into those programs at USF.
  • Consider roundtable discussion with partners (possibly education foundation) to weigh in on the "soft skills” list (if not already done so).
  • How can we integrate all of this in our Strategic Plan – all should be incorporated to help us reach our goal of a 90 percent graduation rate in year 2020.  Mr. Brooks works with Mr. Ayres on Strategic Plan – this is a huge catalyst to help us reach goal and surpass year 2020; align the end product as well – what does the Tampa Bay area need – moving kids forward.  The Strategic Plan has put us all on the same plan, we all own it now.
  • Our programs have always translated into skilled workers. Soft skills have always been there, just not taught as it was in the past – key to preparing students for life.


Chair Griffin thanked Mr. Brooks and staff – looks forward to ongoing conversation. 

Approximately four people were in the audience for workshop topic #2, including other school district personnel.


Overview of Existing Civil Citation Program/Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program (JAAP) and New Proposed Delinquent Act Citation (DAC) Program  (Security Services and Emergency Management)


This workshop was held to provide current orientation of existing Civil Citation/JAAP Program.  Implementation of DAC Pilot Program for 2016-2017.


Chief John Newman provided a Power Point presentation, discussion included:

  • Civil Citation program goals and objectives
  • Civil Citation and Juvenile Arrest Avoidance program history (November 2005 – August 2006) -- citation program still in effect today.
  • Civil Citation definition – alternative to arrest (county-based collaboration); eligible offenses; Statute (FL Statute 985.12); process - Law Enforcement reserves the right to issue a Civil Citation or make an arrest.
  • Civil Citation Key Strategies include:  Immediate consequences, getting help for youth at-risk to reoffend, and no fingerprints for life
  • Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program (JAAP) history – Early 2010 – Mid 2011
  • Delinquent Act Citation (DAC) (Florida Statute 985.125) – addresses first time marijuana use – eligibility criteria, procedure, and how it works (juvenile triage within 24 hours of arrest).


There was general discussion to include:


  • Advocating for kid who really wants help even if parent/guardian doesn’t want child to receive help.
  • Tracking first misdemeanor arrest/ second offense – what’s the line of action for the student if have a second offense.  Civil Citation Monthly Report list by offense, school, and by year – shows what schools/offenses are trending; second offense, kid will be arrested and go with law enforcement.
  • What supports are we putting in place when we have a student come back into our system with first time offense, so there isn’t a second offense (students understanding their consequences, especially if 18 years old) -- Restorative justice on our side – provide that level of support  for the child when return to school.
  • Beyond the school responsibility there has to be other resources to help us (greater partnerships)
  • Due to timing of next topic, this conversation will continue at the afternoon workshop session.

Approximately 12 people were in the audience for workshop topic #3, including other school district personnel.


2016/2017 Graduation Locations (Chief of Schools)


This workshop was held to provide proposed graduation locations, dates, and times for review by the Board.


Superintendent Eakins made brief remarks.


Dr. Vázquez discussed the suggested change in graduation format and venues for 2017 – two venues, parallel graduations.  Change due to earlier start/end date (testing schedules) for the 2016/2017 school year.


Tanly Cabrera, Director of Administration, discussed graduation venues (Florida State Fairgrounds / University of South Florida).  Ms. Cabrera and Ms. Grasso visited USF – available rooms are there for us to utilize; different staging area than in the past.  Mr. Harrison Peters contacted three large school districts and they all use multiple venues for their graduations.


Nicole Binder, Manager of Assessment, discussed issues with testing and related impact to schools; IB and AP testing cannot be moved.  In addition, pulling teachers, guidance counselors, etc. out to assist with testing.


Area Superintendents Brenda Grasso and Sharon Morris, along with Senior High Principals Dave Brown (Strawberry Crest), Brad Woods (Wharton), and Kim Moore (Middleton) discussed the pros and cons of holding graduations at two venues for 2017.  The two venues are supported by the High School Principals – they agree it is best for the students with the least amount of stress on students/schools – No Saturday/Sunday graduations, no overlapping of testing, and allows time to make sure students have met criteria to walk across the stage.  Not uncommon for us to have different venues.  Other options discussed included holding graduations after the school year (May 30 & 31).  However, faculty already gone (contractual issues) and community/parents may not support, as school already ended.


Ms. Cabrera provided a "draft” schedule of the two venues; Exceptional Student Education (ESE) also included on the draft.  One venue would cause career/tech graduation on a holiday weekend.


There was general discussion to include:

  • Board members were asked to be sensitive to the grading of all exams (turn-around time is shortened) for graduations.
  • Board members feel conversation should have happened prior to development of calendar.  Committees need to discuss in early spring prior to calendar being developed. Concern we are adding things into the calendar that may or may not affect graduations such as softball.
  • Student Academic Calendar Committee establishes the academic calendar for the year – the Divisions of Teaching and Learning, and Human Resources are involved in the calendar.   Early start date this year to accomplish exams prior to winter break; we have a 180-day school year – in past we had 184 day year.
  • Splitting into two different venues split families when children graduate from different schools (magnet, etc.). 
  • Schools around USF affected by graduations due to increased traffic in area
  • Nicole Binder asked to provide percentage of students who didn’t walk due to not passing IB exam.
  • Cost – Dr. Vázquez sent cost of the two venues to board members in a previous email.
  • Ms. Cabrera was asked to find out what other districts are doing for graduations that have an earlier start date.
  • Parking is not easy at USF – difficult for board members/staff getting in and out of USF (going between two venues).  USF hard for the elderly with seating.  Fairgrounds more connected. Consider a fieldtrip to USF for board members to see venue.
  • Guidance counselors’ time needs to be freed up so they don’t have to proctor test, they need to do their jobs getting the students to graduation.  
  • Saturday/Sunday (May 21 & 22) graduations were considered, but an issue with the religious community.
  • We are a very active board at graduation and like to participate in as many graduations as possible – support all 27 high schools, not just a few.
  • Everyone is passionate about this (many pros/cons) - need to respect principals proposal for the two venues for this year.
  • Conversation has to be held with the Department of Education (DOE) – testing being scheduled, without thought given to graduation dates.  Extremely complex, emotional issue.  Legislature (DOE) wouldn’t make any changes on backend of the schedule, due to sports, exams, etc. (etched in stone).  Logistics around graduations, rehearsals, etc. led to uncomfortable decision - respect everyone’s decision – this recommendation was difficult.  We have to place recommendation before the Board now and start conversation for next year.
  • Majority of board members not in favor of two venues – may not have choice for this school year; needs to be addressed as soon as possible for the 2017/2018 school year.


Chair Griffin thanked staff – board members can follow-up with staff if needed.

With no further discussion, the workshop adjourned at 11:37 a.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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