Q & A with St. Johns County School Board Member, District 4, Kelly Barrera

Q: Can you give us a school security update as pertains to the recently concluded legislative session?
A: We are excited that the new school security bill gives us the flexibility to continue to have a combination of trained, armed guards as well as sheriff’s deputies at our schools. Each district is different, and for our district, we feel this is the best way to meet the law and protect our students. As sheriff’s officers are trained, we will continue to hire them and bring them into our schools. We’re grateful to our sheriff to make these school resource officers available to us. The St. Johns County School District has no plans to arm teachers. Every board member has publicly stated that we are not interested in that.

Q: What can you tell us about the things you learned at the recent Florida School Boards and Superintendents Summer Conference?
A: Representatives from the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Commission presented to school board members from across the state. Now that time has passed, we can reflect and learn more from their experiences and ask questions. It was very interesting and valuable. Also, we heard of the progress being made on workforce education including expanding opportunities for student internships and alternate graduation paths.

Q: School is out, but summer is a busy time for the school district. Can you let us know some of the activities?
A: In late June, we had our Character Counts! retreat for the representatives from each school. There are also various training sessions for administrators and on June 25, we will hold our strategic planning meeting to look at what was accomplished last year and what we hope to do next year. Principals are actively recruiting and hiring teachers and staff and the school board is working on the budget to determine what we can provide for our students. On July 10, we will host the From Heart to Hands Expo, which brings together non-profit organizations from the community that support our schools to network and relay their missions. This will be held from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. at the Fullerwood Training Center in St. Augustine and is open to the public.

Q: Do you have anything else to share with District 4?
A: On June 18, I travelled to Orlando with Superintendent Tim Forson and representatives from THE PLAYERS, Marsha Oliver and Ryan Hart, to attend the 2019 Commissioner’s Business Recognition Awards put on by the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Education Foundation. This event recognizes businesses for their extraordinary contributions to public education in Florida. This year, the St. Johns County Business Partner of the Year, THE PLAYERS, was selected as one of seven statewide finalists. We are so grateful for the significant contributions that THE PLAYERS makes to the St. Johns County School District and were delighted that they were honored. They have committed $500,000 to the school district for activities like Character Counts!, Pursuing Victory with Honor, and via their First Tee program, have provided golf equipment for each elementary and K – 8 school in the district. 

Q: How can our readers contact you?

A: They can email me at kelly.barrera@stjohns.k12.fl.us or call me at (904) 547-7510.