Q: School’s out, but the work for the school district continues. What can you share with us about what’s happening at this time?
A: Right now, we are trying to figure out the impact of the recently concluded legislative session. Two huge education “train bills” were passed, one that deals mostly with security and one that deals with practically everything else.
Q: What are some of the outcomes of the new security bill?
A: It specifies that we must have an armed person at each school all day long. We do have some flexibility in that they are allowing us to continue what we are doing with a combination of armed guards and resource officers; the armed person does not have to be a sheriff’s deputy.
The legislation allows for teachers to be armed. Our district has absolutely no plans to do this.
Q: So how do things stand with armed personnel in St. Johns County public schools?
A: We added 19 additional SJSO deputies in January. Youth resource officers from SJSO will be at all high schools and middle schools and some elementary schools. With the new law, we can retain the trained, armed guards from the security company, with youth resource officers nearby, to fill any gaps. These armed guards are required to have the guardian training by the sheriff’s office; the main difference is that they can’t make arrests.
Q: What about hardening of campuses and mental health?
A: We have been hardening our schools and will continue to do so to keep our students safe. Also, the law ramps up the requirement for active shooter drills to monthly. We will be receiving additional funds for mental health and we will increase mental health services on our school campuses.
Q: Can you tell us about the changes for the Best and Brightest award program for teachers?
A: This program has had some changes to its funding formula and we are helping our teachers understand them so they can apply if the requirements are met. One change is that teachers are eligible once they are at the same school for two years; administrators must be at the same school for four years.
Q: What are you looking towards later this summer?
A: We just received word that St. Johns County is again tops in the state in third grade reading. I am very pleased about the diligence of teachers, parents, and students that led to this. We expect to receive FSA scores by the end of June and school grades in July.
Q: What else do you have to share with District 1?
A: If you’re reading this and you have not yet registered your child for school, please do so immediately! You can go to your local school or register online at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us. It is so very important for us to know as we plan for teachers for next year.
Q: How can our readers contact you?
A: They can email me at email@example.com or call me at (904) 547-7510.