By ASHLEY AMASON
Chuck Lawson, recently retired State Farm agent and now master gardener, addressed the Walton County School board about fingerprinting fees for volunteers at the Jan. 4 meeting. After applying to be a volunteer at the Walton Career Development Center, Lawson was sent to the district office to be fingerprinted at which time he was charged $81.25. “Is it conducive to [charge me]” he asked. “Does that really give an incentive for volunteers [to get involved in schools]?”
Superintendent Carlene Anderson addressed Lawson’s concerns, declaring under the Jessica Lunsford Act, which is Florida law, any volunteer who will not be in the line of sight of a teacher the entire time he/she is on school grounds must have current fingerprints on file. As for the volunteer absorbing the cost, Anderson said the district’s inability to pay the fee was a financial infeasibility.
Moving to the consent agenda, all items were unanimously approved including the 2010 annual report to the Florida State Board of Education. As a high performing school district, an annual report related to the academic subjects measured by the FCAT must be submitted to the State Board of Education. The district-wide report showed in the 2009-10 school year, 72 percent of students met high standards in reading, 78 percent met high standards in math, 84 percent met high standards in writing, but the number dropped to 52 percent meeting high standards in science. Among the lowest 25 percent of students, 58 percent made learning gains in reading (down from 64 percent last year) and 65 percent made learning gains in math (up from 63 percent last year).
The Walton High School (WHS) band will travel to Tampa Jan. 12-15 to participate in the 2011 Florida Music Educators Association Clinic and Conference. The WHS Junior ROTC drill teams will travel to Montgomery, Ala. to participate in the JROTC Drill Competition.
School handbooks for the Walton Career Development Center were approved, noting for students under the age of 18 who are enrolled in adult education courses, medication must be transported by a parent or guardian.
In closing comments, board member Faye Leddon asked about the possibility of random drug screenings for permanent employees, not only new hires or bus drivers, implying the concern had been brought forward by the public. Anderson clarified if an employee is suspected of or reported as using illegal substances, an investigation will be performed. Attorney Ben Holley questioned whether random drug screenings were constitutional, in addition to complying with the union agreement. No action was taken.
The next school board meeting will be Jan. 18 at 5 p.m.