WCSD faces record amount of students: 10,053 and growing [PREMIUM]

WALTON COUNTY School District Director of Student Services, Randy Stafford, hearing school board questions at the regular school board meeting on August 20 at South Walton High School.

Story and photos by JENNA BAILEY

On Tuesday, August 20, the Walton County School Board (WCSB) held a regular meeting at 5 p.m. in the South Walton High School (SWHS) media center. The opening agenda was approved with adjustments and the consent agenda was approved as presented. Following approval of the consent agenda, Vice Chair Marsha Winegarner expressed thanks to Walton County School District (WCSD) staff for including some budget items that will serve some relief for the needs of the growing WCSD student population. 

In response to Winegarner’s comment, Superintendent Russell Hughes made a statement regarding the current student numbers in the WCSD. As of Friday, August 23, the WCSD (not including charter schools) student population is 10,053 students. For the 2016-2017 school year the student population was 9,249. For the 2017-2018 school year the total was 9,666. “So we have grown, we’re literally counting heads, sharing books, and disseminating information that students are needing because we have such growth happening in our county. A very good problem and we are trying to accommodate without issues,” Hughes stated. 

Transportation — For transportation was a request by the Department of  Transportation for school board approval of bus stops for the 2019-2020 school year. This item was approved. 

Finance Dept. — For the finance dept. was a request for approval of the WCSD monthly financial statement for June 2019. The board approved this item. 

Human Resources Dept. — First for human resources was a request for approval of the 2019-20 contingent substitute pay ($25.00 per hour). The approved rate will be retroactive to August 5, 2019 or to the first day of eligible service.  The approved compensation rate is for the current school year and will sunset at the end of the 2019-2020 school year and the substitute salary schedule will be amended accordingly. The board approved this item. Additionally for human resources, a request for approval of the August 20, 2019 personnel recommendations and personnel addendum. The board approved this item.

Curriculum & Instruction Dept. — This portion of the meeting began with a request for approval of Achieve 300 for the 2019-20 school year. Achieve 3000 is currently used in 6th – 12th grade Intensive Reading classrooms throughout the WCSD. The board approved this item. 

Second, a request for school board approval of a consultant services agreement with B&B Educational Consultants, Inc. This agreement is to provide professional learning opportunities for teachers who are assigned responsibility for instruction to non-English speaking students (ELLs), and for professional learning opportunities for school administrators, guidance counselors and bilingual aides.  The professional learning opportunities will focus on the understanding of ACCESS 2.0 state assessment results for ELL students; aligning instruction and assessments to meet ELLs level of understanding English; and the utilization of strategies and methods to ensure the academic success of this student subgroup. This agreement will be funded from the Supplementary Instructional Support Leader grant, Title III, Part A and Title III Immigrant funds. 

Third for curriculum and instruction, the board approved a contracted service agreement between the WCSB and The Speech Lab, LLC. 

Fourth, a request for board approval of the AmplioSpeech Contract for school year 2019-20. AmplioSpeech is a provider of digital speech-language therapy services to the public and private education sector.  The board approved this item. 

Fifth, a request for board approval of a contract for membership fees and professional services with AVID (Advanced Via Individual Determination).  The purpose of this agreement is to establish the terms and conditions under which K-12 Collaborative shall deliver data portfolios and professional development services to the school leadership and district instructional support teams within the WCSD. The board approved this item.

Last for this section of the meeting, a request for board approval of the 2019-20 WISE School Improvement Plan. Section 1001.42(18), Florida Statutes, requires district school boards to annually approve and require implementation of a Schoolwide Improvement Plan (SIP) for each school in the district that has a school grade of D or F. This plan is also a requirement for Targeted Support and Improvement (TS&I) and Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CS&I) schools pursuant to 1008.33 F.S. and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

To be designated as a TS&I, a school must have one or more ESSA subgroups with a Federal Index below 41%.  There are three ways a school can be designated a CS&I: 1) Have a school grade of D or F.  2) Have a graduation rate of 67% or lower. 3) Have an overall Federal Index below 41%. The SIP is intended to be the primary artifact used by every school with stakeholders to review date, set goals, create an action plan and monitor progress. The Florida Department of Education encourages schools to use the SIP as a ‘living document’ by continually updating, refining and using the plan to guide their work throughout the year. The board approved this item.

Technology Dept. — First for technology the school board approved an amendment to the Service Agreement for copiers at Dune Lakes Elementary approved by the board on July 16, 2019. 

Second, a request for approval of the Participation Agreement between AT&T Mobility National Accounts LLC and the WCSB for mobile communications. The board approved this item. 

School Board — For this portion of the meeting the WCSB gave approval for Vice Chair Marsha Winegarner to travel to Kissimmee, Florida on September 4-6, 2019 to attend the 2019 Board of Directors’ Leadership Development Training and Meeting. The board approved this item. 

The next regular WCSB meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 3, at 5 p.m. at the Tivoli Administrative Complex in DeFuniak Springs.