SR 8-11-16 Volume 6, Issue 1

On behalf of the School Board and district staff, I want to welcome all of you to the 2016-2017 school year. I hope everyone had the opportunity to relax and enjoy time with family and friends. A special welcome to families new to the district and to our more than 400 new staff members. We are fortunate to be one of the highest performing school districts in the nation and it is an honor to serve as your superintendent.

The SJCSD is working closely with the Department of Health and Anastasia Mosquito Control, Division of St. Johns County, under the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with regard to the Zika virus.  Interim guidance has been developed by the CDC for district and school administrators in the planning of school-related activities, recommended actions, and appropriate policies for educating students and staff members for the continuation of school operations.

Mosquito control measures on school grounds will focus on identifying and removing sources of standing water that can serve as mosquito breeding sites.  Common sources on school grounds such as buckets, trash cans, planters, playground equipment, and spaces beneath modular structures will be regularly monitored by onsite Maintenance Managers.  Processes to ensure these do not become mosquito breeding areas will include regular cleaning, turning over, tightly covering, or completely removing (if appropriate) these sources.  The district will follow the direction of Anastasia Mosquito Control should insecticide spraying be indicated.

In addition, we will temporarily modify the medication policy found in School Board Rule 5.15 to allow parents at the elementary level to bring insect repellent to the school with their child’s name written on the container for application by staff before going outside.  We will continue our policy for middle and high school students in that they may self-carry and self-apply insect repellent with written permission from the parent.  Parents and staff members will be notified of any changes in policy and information will be accessible through the district website at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/health/zika/.  This link also includes the CDC’s recommendations for parents talking to their children about Zika.

Our School Board has been focused on meeting the needs of our dramatic growth with the help of the half-cent sales tax including the construction of three new schools – one elementary and two K-8s. These schools will be in the fastest growing areas of the county. The elementary school will help to relieve overcrowding in the World Golf Village and the central county region and is scheduled to open for the 2017-2018 school year. The K-8 schools will relieve overcrowding for kindergarten through 8th grades at schools in northern St. Johns County – one in Nocatee and the other in Aberdeen. They are scheduled to open for the 2018-2019 school year.  The schools will be funded through the voter approved half-cent sales surtax, school impact fees and proportionate share mitigation funds.

The half-cent sales tax also paid for 800 MHz radios for all of the county’s school buses.  These radios will allow bus drivers to communicate directly with law enforcement in the event of an emergency and will enhance the safety of students on school buses. The radios were installed this summer on more than 230 school buses.

A large part of the success of St. Johns County Schools comes from the continued focus on the classroom. Every effort is made to provide teachers and schools with the resources they need for creating an environment that ensures all students are on the path to success. Through evaluation, training and support, we continue to develop high-quality personnel who focus on student growth and achievement.

Community and parent support, bright children and strong character-based leadership are major factors in our success. I am tremendously grateful for the high level of parent participation and support we receive as well as for the generosity of our business partners.

Best wishes for an outstanding school year!

Department Updates

Academic and Student Services

ACCOUNTABILITY AND INTERVENTION SERVICES

Exceptional Student Education (ESE)

2016-2017 Gifted Parent Advisory Council Meetings

Tuesday, September 27 Hickory Creek Elementary 6:30-7:30 p.m. Media Center
Thursday, November 17 Palencia Elementary 4:30-5:30 p.m Media Center
Thursday, February 23 Hartley Elementary 5:30-6:30 p.m. Media Center
Tuesday, April 25 Landrum Middle School 6:30-7:30 p.m. Multi-Purpose Room

In addition, there are more ESE parent workshops to be scheduled Second Semester. Information will be coming in future editions of the Superintendent Report and on the ESE Website.              

Federal Programs

Title I
Title I, used for improving the academic achievement of the disadvantaged, is designed to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain an education of the highest quality and acheive, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state achievement standards and state assessments. The St. Johns County School District is allocated Title I funds to support schools with the highest percentages of children from low-income families. For the 2016-2017 school year, St. Johns County has six elementary schools, three middle schools and three alternative schools designated as Title I schools.

A Title I school-wide program is designed with the knowledge that there is a link between poverty and low achievement. The emphasis in school-wide program schools is on serving all students, improving all structures that support student learning, and combining resources, as allowed, to achieve a common goal. School-wide programs maximize the impact of Title I. This strategy results in an ongoing, comprehensive plan for school improvement that is owned by the entire school community and tailored to its unique needs.

Title II
Title II, teacher and principal training funds, will support the delivery of professional development for the 2016-2017 school year.

Title III
Title III, language instruction for limited English proficient and immigrant students, provides the district with supplemental funds for English Language Learners (ELLs) and immigrant students to assist them with their cultural and academic transitions.

Planning, Accountability and Assessment

Every school in the SJCSD has a School Advisory Council (SAC). The SAC meets monthly during the school year and assists the principal in making decisions related to the school budget and school improvement. Parents, school faculty/staff, and community members are encouraged to participate in their school’s SAC. Please contact your school’s SAC Chair for more information about getting involved.In addition, each school develops a School Improvement Plan (SIP). SIPs will be posted for the public to view at www.floridacims.org in September. Principals will present their SIPs to the School Board on September 28 and 29.

The summer End-Of-Course (EOC) testing was completed last week. This testing window offers students an opportunity to retake, make-up or test for the first time in Algebra I, Algebra II, biology, civics, geometry, and US history. Most  secondary schools ran computer-based tests on both test platforms during the testing window.

The department is currently preparing for the Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener (FLKRS) which begins the first day of school. The FLKRS is used to inform instruction and to provide pre-kindergarten program information.

There will be a training webinar on Discovery Education (DE) assessments in late August to prepare school testing coordinators for administering the first DE assessment. The first DE assessment is offered to elementary and middle schools to provide teachers with initial information about students and is also used as part of the teacher evaluation scores in grades K-3.

The district assessment calendar is complete and will posted soon.

CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION

Instructional Resources and Media Services

Instructional Resources and Media Services is busy ensuring students and teachers have the resources needed to continue the tradition of academic excellence in St. Johns County. This includes print materials and digital resources. Visit the website at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/media/ and use the links to explore media resources and educational technology.

Dual enrollment courses allow students to earn college credit while still enrolled as high school students.  Students enrolled in the SJCSD may take courses on their school campus, on the college campus or with virtual classes at no charge to them.  All costs associated with the courses are covered by the school district including tuition, fees and textbooks.  Students interested in dual enrollment are encouraged to meet with their teachers and guidance counselors.

Dual Enrollment textbooks are checked out (loaned) to SJCSD students through the Media Services Department located at 10 Hildreth Drive in St. Augustine.  The phone number is (904) 547-3947.  Students may pick up books for the fall semester beginning the week of August 15. Textbooks will be issued weekdays 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (excluding holidays). All Dual Enrollment textbooks issued for the fall semester must be returned to the Fullerwood Center at 10 Hildreth Drive no later than Tuesday, December 13, 2016, in order to avoid the $10 per book, per day late fee.  Students must bring a printed copy of their schedule as proof of enrollment and sign the district’s textbook checkout agreement form to receive books and other materials. Just a reminder that Private, Home School, and Florida Virtual students must purchase their books at the St. Johns River State Bookstore.

Instructional Services – Elementary and Secondary

Year-at-a-Glance Pacing Guide
The Year-at-a-Glance pacing guide is a document that informs parents and students of the recommended pacing and content standards for selected courses. It includes the topics to be taught week by week each quarter and a list of instructional resources. The Year-at-a-Glance is only a recommended pacing guide; school leaders and teachers make the final decision regarding the pacing of any program of study. The classroom teacher is always the best source of information regarding content and pacing. The Year-at-a-Glance is supplied as a model of one recommended path to the completion of a course.  The Year-at-a-Glance is available at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/year-at-a-glance/.

Parent Resource Guide
The Parent Resource Guide is a great resource for parents that is revised annually and posted on the district website at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/families/. The Parent Resource Guide explains what students will be learning at each grade level, registration, placement, promotion and retention, the standards, district and state assessments, grading, advanced academic opportunities, programs of choice, and available services, and much more.  It also provides a number of hyperlinks to other resources.

Student Progression Plan
The Student Progression Plan is a compilation of state statutes and district policies about placement, acceleration, assessment, promotion and retention, grading, graduation requirements, ESE and EL policies, support for students, and more.  It is divided into elementary, middle and high school sections to make it easier to read.  It is revised annually and posted on the district website at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/families/.

STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES

Health Services

The Health Services Department partnered with St. Vincent’s Medical Center to provide free immunizations, school and sports physicals to St. Johns County students.  The St. Vincent’s Mobile Health Unit brought their medical team to Ketterlinus Elementary School on July 12 and 19 to assist families in meeting state mandated school requirements.  Over 200 children received physicals and immunizations at no cost to their family.  This will be an ongoing collaboration with St. Vincent’s as the district expands this mobile outreach.

Student Services

The Student Service Department has been busy preparing to again serve the district’s needy and homeless students by providing backpacks stuffed with school supplies, referrals for clothing and participating in community events to help address the needs of at-risk students.

School Services

School Services recently hosted two in-services:

  • On August 3, approximately 100 staff members attended the annual “Managing Student Discipline in our Schools.” Presentations were provided by district departments including School Safety, Student Services, ESE, and Mental Health, in addition to the St Johns County Sheriff’s Department.  The changes in the Student Code of Conduct were reviewed, along with best practices in investigating student discipline and the role of the administrator and dean of students.
  • On August 5, over 240 coaches and student athletes participated in the annual “Pursuing Victory with Honor” workshop, representing six high schools. The workshop focused on coaching and student leadership, balanced with the essential elements of sportsmanship, character development and the life lessons gained from athletics. The student athletic councils from Bartram Trail, Creekside, Nease, and Pedro Menendez high schools led coaches and student athletes through leadership-building exercises. The morning ended with the presentation of the Jeff Holt Coach of the Year awards and an inspiring presentation from Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner who shared his philosophy on character, Pursuing Victory With Honor and servant leadership.

Beginning next month, the School Services Department will be hosting monthly meetings for deans of discipline.  These meetings will provide professional development, peer networking, bullying and harassment, and other pertinent daily operational issues related to school discipline.

The 2016-2017 Student Code of Conduct has been approved and distributed to all of schools.  Staff and parents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with this School Board approved document and to contact School Services with any questions.

Athletics
Fall sports schedules have been posted via links on each high school websites and may also be found at www.c2schools.com/.  Community members are encouraged to come out and enjoy interscholastic competitions. Thank you parents and family members for supporting our athletes.

School Safety
The district safety coordinator will be attending school safety team meetings at each of the district’s schools to provide assistance with writing Emergency Operation Plans, planning drills, reviewing AEDs as well as addressing any other school safety needs.

Student Leadership – CHARACTER COUNTS!
Student Leadership and members of the Community Relations Department worked diligently this summer to produce a video highlighting students for displaying good character. This video was shown at the new employee training and each student from the video had the opportunity to speak about how they live out the pillars of character in their everyday life. This past Friday, 20 empowered student leaders led the Pursuing Victory With Honor training and celebration for their fellow coaches and peers. The department has also received numerous nominations of student leaders to be considered for a Beaver Toyota Achievement Award. LINK Crew, WEB and B6 clubs had over 843 leaders organize and run the sixth and ninth grade orientations for their schools.

Investing in Kids (INK!)

Tools 4 Schools
The Tools 4 Schools/Bailey Group Depot website will reopen on August 29. The summer was a busy time as many local businesses and organizations were collection sites for donated school supplies used to fill The Bailey Group Depot. INK! looks forward to the new school year and assisting teachers in supplying their classrooms.

One for the Kids
One for the Kids is a payroll deduction program for SJCSD employees. Additional funding is important to enhance learning for students in the classroom. Employees can help support the work of INK! by donating as little as $1 per pay period through payroll deduction. 100 percent of funds raised through One for the Kids payroll deduction program supports INK’s Five Learning Years (FLY) Program. FLY seeks to improve the school readiness of every St. Johns County child from prenatal development to age 5, with the measurable success of each.

Community Relations

 

Volunteer Services and Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)

Schools continue to work hard to ensure school access for community members wishing to come into schools for volunteer assistance.  We welcome all who want to help out, and thank you for your time.  While the first few weeks will involve completing background checks and establishing where volunteers will serve, the department will soon have everyone placed and assisting students, teachers, and staff.  RSVP volunteers will continue to mentor and tutor students in the district.  We are so appreciative of the time and experience all our volunteers give to help students be as successful as possible!

Webmaster

Working with the IT Department, the district launched a new Moodle website at http://olc.stjohns.k12.fl.us which can be used by staff to administer online courses for both professional development and student instruction. Also, in collaboration with the Human Resources Department, the online training course used by employees new to the district was revamped. Over the summer, the district webmaster provided multiple training sessions for groups of teachers and school-based webmasters to help them with their websites.

Instructional Television

Video productions has been very involved with the new hire process as they have worked to help all departments get their orientation materials up to date. The department has also produced a new CHARACTER COUNTS! video to provide new hires with an idea of what good character means in the St. Johns County School District. Students from area high schools were instrumental in the production of this video. A special thanks goes out to all of those involved. The video production team also looks forward to the beginning of the school year and documenting all of the smiling faces starting school!

Human Resources

Summer Hiring
In preparation for the 2016-17 school year the Human Resources Department coordinated the hiring of 400 employees.  Of those 400 persons, 122 were hired from within the district.  These individuals moved from one school to another school, or moved jobs within the school.  The remaining 278 persons are new hires to the district with 180 of them being hired into teaching positions. With student enrollment continuing to increase, hiring will continue at a fast pace through the month of August.

This past spring the district recommended 19 applicants for hire to address identified critical need areas. Critical need areas are teaching positions that are difficult to fill or have a limited number of qualified applicants on a posting. Areas identified were in science, math, Exceptional Student Education, music, Spanish and speech/language pathology.

Associate Teacher Expo Held
On July 27, Human Resources held the first Associate Teacher Expo at Fullerwood Learning Center. With over 75 attendees, school administration teams were able to interview a number of qualifying candidates who had a complete application on file. As a result, 14 associate teachers were recommended for hire for the 2016-17 school year. Feedback from the attendees was very positive and they appreciated the opportunity to attend to meet face-to-face with a number of school administrative teams.

Substitutes
The District will be accepting applications for those interested in becoming a substitute teacher August 22 through September 9.  The position will appear on the district’s regular site for all job postings. Visit www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/jobs/, select Applitrack to view openings and begin application. Applicants must be at least 21 years old, have a four year degree and will be evaluated for inclusion in the mandatory training based on teacher certification (if applicable), college major in a critical needs area, GPA, above average references, and other indicators of strong performance as an educator.  Substitutes are “at-will, as-needed workers” with no expectation of summer employment.  The hourly rate of pay is $12 per hours and one must complete a minimum of 15 days substituting per school year to remain on active list for the upcoming year.

Operations

BUSINESS AND FISCAL SERVICES

Accounting, Payroll and Accounts Payable Departments

Please be aware that the first paycheck for teachers will be August 15 for those with a pay assignment in SunGard by August 8.  The first paycheck for food service and transportation employees will be August 31 for those employees with a pay assignment in SunGard as of August 24.

Budget Department

The tentative millage and budget was advertised, and the first public hearing was held on August 2.  The tentative millage has decreased to 6.867 from 7.228, a reduction of .361 mills, with the total district budget approaching $568 million. The final public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, September 13, 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium at 40 Orange Street.

Food & Nutrition Services

The summer food service program provided nutritious meals to area children throughout June and July.  In June alone, 7,393 breakfasts and 14,060 lunches were served to children participating in reading programs, algebra camps, sports activities and recreational centers. Processing of lunch applications for the upcoming school year is underway and notification letters are being mailed daily, with over 6,000 students already approved for free or reduced-priced meals.  In schools, food service managers and staff are ready to welcome back students on the first day of school.

Purchasing Department

The purchasing department worked throughout the summer collecting all furnishings and equipment purchased with public funds by the two recently-closed charter schools.  These items have been redistributed to numerous schools throughout the district.  Purchasing is also working with the transportation department to ensure the timely installation of the Motorola 800 Mhz band radio system in the district’s fleet of school buses.  This improved technology will provide a safer environment for students and staff, and is a direct result of the sales tax approved by the voters of St. Johns County.

FACILITIES & NEW CONSTRUCTION

Maintenance
The Maintenance Department has been busy this summer completing over 150 projects and processing 424 work orders at various schools and administrative facilities throughout the district.  Summer projects included minor remodel and renovation projects, replacement of carpet and tile, painting, HVAC upgrades including duct cleaning, indoor air quality baseline testing and chiller replacement.  Additionally, a total of 36 relocatable classrooms were installed over the summer with four at Mill Creek Elementary School; four at Liberty Pines Academy; five at Patriot Oaks Academy; seven at Valley Ridge Academy; 10 at Pacetti Bay Middle School; four at Allen D. Nease High School and two at St. Johns Technical High School.

Energy Management
Energy conservation strategies employed over the summer are again proving to be a great success. School staff remained at their home schools and operated in “unoccupied” mode by turning off HVAC systems during the peak demand period, 3 – 6 p.m. This will result in significant energy savings.  The Energy Management Department will record electric bills in order to evaluate the results.  The effort put forth by all school administrators to avoid the peak demand charges is commendable.

Building Code Administration
The new classroom addition at John A. Crookshank Elementary School is complete, has been issued a Certificate of Occupancy and is ready for school opening. Fire, Safety and SREF inspections (required at all schools and facilities) will begin after the start of school.

New Construction
Three new schools will open in St. Johns County, one elementary and two k-8’s. The elementary school, which is scheduled to open for the 2017-2018 school year, will help to relieve overcrowding in elementary grades in the World Golf Village and the central county region and will have a capacity of approximately 800 students. The K-8 schools will relieve overcrowding for kindergarten through eighth grades at schools in northern St. Johns County – one in Nocatee and the other in Aberdeen – and will have a capacity of approximately 1,490 students each. They are scheduled to open for the 2018-2019 school year.

The major expansion project at Allen D. Nease High School is ongoing, with the dining and kitchen expansion and renovations completed this summer.  Site construction began in June for the new bus loop and 600 student-station, two-story building addition.  Improvements to St. Johns Technical High School facilities are being completed to enhance the school’s culinary program. These improvements will be completed in August and will immediately provide a state-of-the art culinary learning environment.

Transportation
The Transportation Department will transport approximately 20,000 children aboard 171 school buses each day at the start of the 2016-2017 school year. On July 27, all parents and guardians received Blackboard Connect texts, emails, and voice messages regarding bus routes for the school year.  Route information has also been made available on the District’s webpage at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/transportation/routes/. Prior to the start of school, the transportation department’s 276 professionals will conduct intensive behind-the-wheel, pre-trip inspection, and behavioral management training.  Additionally, all operators will drive their routes aboard their assigned buses before the first day of school.  The safety of children is always of utmost importance to the transportation team.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Acceptable Use Procedure (AUP)
As the new school year begins, remember that all staff and students must sign and acknowledge the appropriate AUP each year to use the District’s Digital Network.  Teachers must also sign the Technology Equipment Responsibility Form.  All of these forms are located on the InsideSJCSD under AUP.   For more details on the AUP reference Management Directive 5.01 and School Board Rule 6.83. The Student AUP is located on the public website under the IT Department along with other associated forms.   Students should also have a current AUP on file at their school before using the District’s Digital network.

Network Password
Please remember to keep your network password safe and secure.   Do not share your password as it typically provides access to sensitive data (for teachers and staff), including access to your own personal data. To help returning teachers/staff reset their network password, IT has developed a new password reset tool.  Employees can access this tool when on campus or off campus (without using VPN) at pwreset.stjohns.k12.fl.us.

New Full Time Teachers
The IT Department has been working to provide a laptop computer to all new, full-time teachers beginning on August 2 at their assigned school (provided they have been entered into the HR system).  This coincided with the new Teacher Orientation training on the same day.   Please check with your school TSS to facilitate this effort.

PLANNING & GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS

Enrollment
The Planning & Government Relations Department is currently monitoring enrollment numbers for the 2016-2017 school year. Current student projections include 37,003 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) students.  This represents an expected growth of approximately 2.8 percent. The department is also monitoring compliance with the Class Size Amendment, which requires that each individual core class meet the established limit based on its grade level (Grades KG-3: 18; Grades 4-8: 22; and Grades 9-12: 25).

Legislative Update
It is election season for the Legislature and local elected officials, which means committee meetings and most things legislative, will not be under way until late November/early December.  Don’t forget to exercise your civic duty and vote during the upcoming elections.  The primary election will be held on Tuesday, August 30, 2016 and the General Election will be held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.  Absentee and early voting information can be found at www.votesjc.com

In the coming months, work will begin on the creation of the district’s Legislative Platform, which requires input from everyone involved in the school district.  If you have items you would like to see included, please contact Beth Sweeny via email at [email protected] or telephone at 547-7673.

Governmental Relations continues to work on engaging more administrators, teachers and parents in advocating for the needs of the school district.  If you have a faculty group or a PTO who would like more information on how to effectively communicate with elected officials and advocate for the priorities of the district, please contact Beth Sweeny to set up a presentation.

“I expect to pass through the world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

~Stephen Grellet, French/American religious leader (1773-1855)