By ALICIA LEONARD
The Walton County School Board (WCSB) met for their first monthly session March 5, 2013 at 5 p.m., at the Tivoli Complex in DeFuniak Springs. Adoption of three sets of minutes from Feb. 19, 2013 meetings, announcements and public comments were on the opening agenda before the board.
During opening announcements, District One board member Gail Smith thanked the Rosemary Beach Foundation for the annual art contest held by the foundation. More than 1,300 students participated from 14 local schools. Smith said, “Each of those schools will receive $500 for their art department. It was a juried show and was a wonderful cultural event for our students and I thought we should thank them for it.”
The board then moved to approve the agenda before them and adopt the minutes from the Feb. 19 meetings unanimously. WCSB Chairman Mark Davis called for public comments and with none forthcoming, the board moved on to the consent agenda.
Under consent agenda items were facility and training site agreements for nursing students at Walton Career Development Center (WCDC) to use Fort Walton Beach Medical Center for clinical training, transportation for various groups including three students from WCDC and instructor Thomas Martin to present a replica lectern to the Carter Museum in Plains, Ga., and other various contracts. The board approved the consent agenda as recommended by Walton County School Superintendent Carlene Anderson unanimously.
Under the action agenda, the board approved unanimously a request for advertisement and a public hearing on March 18, 2013 at 5:15 p.m. to amend the wording of a vehicle advertisement description for school capital outlay years 2011- 2013. The board also unanimously approved personnel recommendations on the action agenda.
Dr. David Jeselnik presented an update on the College Board Florida Partnership and the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program to the board. Several AVID students, their parents and teachers from schools across the county came to speak in favor of the program. Described as a “rigorous” course of study, AVID became available after the Walton County School District (WCSD) became a Florida Partnership District during the 2010-2011 school year. The partnership for minority and underrepresented student achievements was originally offered to large, urban schools until the Department of Education (DOE) came to the conclusion that rural areas could face the same as well as different challenges for student achievement. Partnership goals are that all students have the opportunity to prepare for, enroll in and graduate from college, and to provide support for students, train teachers and raise academic expectations. Findings from the partnership show that students who unsuccessfully sit for one Advanced Placement exam during high school are still 19 percent more likely to graduate from college “just from the higher expectation experience,” said Jeselnik, than those who don’t sit for the exams at all.
Grant funding for the district for the last three years for these program totals $402, 957.15 to date. Students that would fit the profile for the AVID course have academic potential such as average to high test scores, college potential with support such as teacher recommendations, as well as personal desire and determination. Students may screen in for the program with special circumstances as well with deployed parents, low household income, and the first of the family to attend college.
Note taking guides such as Cornell Notes, study habits, peer-to-peer problem solving, trained tutors from local colleges, critical thinking skills and organization are tools given to students as a part of AVID to help them learn how to succeed far past college.
“I’m in year 33 and this is by far the best thing I have ever been involved in. It gets the best results by far,” Jeselnik told the board of his impression of the AVID model.
South Walton High School student John Carrol brought his AVID/Cornell Notes binder to show the board the organizational skills that AVID can bring to students. “My binder is one of many at South Walton High School and you can see the difference between AVID students and non-AVID students. Before a test, after a test, you can see the difference, because AVID students are ready, and they’re ready to get through high school and through college. It has helped me in so many ways and made high school much easier for me. I hope every high school by the time I graduate has the AVID program for students.”
Lynn Martin, the AVID teacher from Walton High School had nothing but praise for the program, saying that it improves teachers’ skills as well as students and brought along two students, Ashley Harper and Addison Frymyer. Both told the board that collaboration and organizational skills taught by AVID have improved their educational experience and helped them look forward to college as well as helping them learn the enjoyment of participating in charity and community service. Other teachers and students took the time to expound on the positive results the program has rendered in local students.
After the presentation, the board moved to discuss student expulsions on the agenda. After discussion on possible added steps Anderson could take before having to bring some cases to the board as the only means of discipline and questions on conflict resolution training for some teachers at Walton Academy, the board moved unanimously to approve the expulsions except for one nay vote by Davis on one case.
The board then moved to approve travel for the board to Tallahassee to attend the 28th Annual Day in the Legislature and new school board members Survival Skills II Conference on March 19-22.
In closing items, the WCSB will meet in the future at the public hearing on March 18 at 5:15 p.m. and a scheduled workshop on March 19 at 4 p.m. at the Tivoli Complex in DeFuniak Springs. To see more on agendas and minutes go to www.walton.k12.fl.us/board.