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May 2011

Negotiated Agreements

 Negotiators for the St. Johns Education Association (SJEA) and the St. Johns County School Board have reached tentative agreement on their 2011-2014 contract for the district’s teachers. Negotiators for the St. Johns Educational Support Professionals Association (SJESPA) and the St. Johns County School Board also reached tentative agreement on the 2011-2014 contract for the district’s non-instructional employees.
Highlights of both contracts:

  • No increase in the hourly rate or salaries for the 2011-2012 school year
  • No movement on the salary schedule for the 2011-2012 school year or increase due to anniversary
  • No decreases in salary levels for the 2011-2012 school year
  • Increase in the supplement paid to high school instructional staff teaching a seventh period class
  • Supplements for middle school teachers opting for up to 36 hours of additional planning time
  • Two additional days of in-service training for teachers on the new teacher evaluation system
  • Two optional additional in-service days for non-instructional employees

“We were able to settle a contract in very difficult times with respect for each other and the good of the district in mind,” said Jim Springfield, Associate Superintendent for Human Resources and Chief Negotiator for the school district. “It was well understood that, due to major cuts in our budget, we were not able to improve employee income at this time.”
Both parties were disappointed that they were unable to offer a salary increase. However, with the current budget situation, there were no funds available for even a cost-of-living increase.
“I would have been happier if we had received our step increases,” said Debbie Etheredge, SJEA President. “Having said that and understanding the difficult financial times that we are going through, I believe that we truly bargained in good faith.”
During the past few years the St. Johns County School District has moved its teacher’s average salary from the bottom quartile in the state to the top quartile.
The contract will be up for a ratification vote before the last day of the school year for employees. Following the vote, the Tentative Agreements will be presented to the School Board for acceptance at their June 14 meeting.
“We may be the first district in the state to settle a contract for the 2011-2012 school year,” noted Mr. Springfield. “Most districts are still negotiating the 2010-2011 school year. This is a testimony to the leadership of Dr. Joyner, Ms. Etheredge and Kim Felder, SJESPA President.”
SJEA is the recognized bargaining agent for the approximately 2,000 instructional personnel in the school district including teachers, media specialists, guidance counselors, deans and psychologists.  
SJESPA is the recognized bargaining agent for the approximately 1,500 non-instructional personnel including teacher aides, clerical staff, bus drivers, custodians, maintenance and food service.  
The school district administration, which is not represented by an association, will also not receive a raise this year.


Third Grade FCAT Scores

    St. Johns County third graders tied for second in the state in reading and fourth in the state in math on the recently-released scores on the Sunshine State Standards (SSS) of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). In reading 87 percent of students scored at or above grade level and in math 88 percent, both increases over last year.
“I was very pleased with our third grade scores and commend all the schools for their success,” said Superintendent Joseph Joyner. “The bar was raised this year with the implementation of FCAT 2.0, and our students, teachers and support staff rose to the occasion to meet the higher expectations.  I am very proud of everyone involved and look forward to the same success in the other grades.”
The percentage of students scoring three and above in reading was 15 points above the state average of 72 percent. The percentage of students passing the math portion of the FCAT was 10 points above the state average of 78 percent. Students scoring at Level 3 and above are considered to be performing at grade level.
Overall, Hickory Creek Elementary School (HCES) had the highest district scores on both the reading and math portions of the FCAT while South Woods Elementary School (SWES) showed the greatest gains in both areas.
In reading HCES had 97 percent of its students scoring at Level 3 and above while Ponte Vedra Palm Valley/Rawlings Elementary School (PVPV/RES) was close behind with 96 percent. Others scoring in the ninetieth percentile were Timberlin Creek Elementary School (TCES) at 93 percent, Durbin Creek Elementary School and Ocean Palms Elementary School (OPES) at 92 percent, and Julington Creek Elementary School (JCES) and R. B. Hunt Elementary School (RBHES) at 91 percent.
Schools showing the most improvement in reading were SWES (63% to 78%), Hartley Elementary School (HES) (78% to 87%) and PV-PV/RES (88% to 96%).
In math HCES had 99 percent of its students scoring at Level 3 or above, a 10-point increase over last year. OPES, PVPV/RES and TCES all tied for the second highest score at 95 percent.  They were closely followed by JCES, Mason Elementary School (MES) and RBHES, all scoring 94 percent.
In addition to HCES, the biggest gains in the number of students passing the math test were seen by SWES (66% to 82%), MES (84% to 94%) and HES (81% to 89%).

Summer Operations

     The St. Johns County School District will implement the following operational strategies to save money during the upcoming summer months. These strategies helped produce energy savings of more than $800,000 during the summer of 2010.
Four-Day Workweek
Beginning on Monday, June 13, the school district will operate a four-day workweek, Monday through Thursday.  All facilities will function in an energy conservation mode Friday through Sunday. Summer activities will be designed within the Monday-Thursday workweek and will be completed by August 4.  The district will return to the normal five-day workweek beginning on Monday, August 8.
One-Week Shutdown
All schools and district offices will be closed during the week of July 18-21 and will reopen on Monday, July 25.
School Consolidation
Beginning on Monday, June 20, the school district will operate from six high schools and one middle school serving as regional centers. All other facilities will function in an energy conservation mode except during the time the facility is being cleaned and prepared for the new school year.  
Each regional high school will serve as the operation center for the schools that have been assigned to that site.  School administrative teams will work in designated areas of the high school.  Maintenance managers and custodial staff will work at the schools in their region on a rotating basis.  District communication with school staff will be done at the regional site for that school.
Summer academic programs, camps, and extended school year services will be planned, developed and communicated by each school.  Camps and other activities will operate at the regional high school and will be coordinated by administrators at all schools in the region. Staff will return to their regular school site on Monday, August 1.
Following are the assignments for each school:

Menendez High St. Augustine High Sebastian Middle Nease High Creekside High Bartram Trail High Ponte Vedra High
Gamble Rogers Evelyn Hamblen Murray Pacetti Bay Fruit Cove Switzerland Point Landrum
South Woods Ketterlinus St. Johns Technical High School Wards Creek Durbin Creek Liberty Pines PV/Rawlings
Hartley R. B. Hunt Mill Creek Julington Creek Timberlin Creek Ocean Palms
Mason Crookshank Cunningham Creek Hickory Creek
Osceola Webster

Restrictive Building Operations
By restricting building operations in all district facilities during the summer, energy consumption at each site can be reduced.  This will require centralization of summer activities in buildings where the lowest energy consumption will occur.

School Bus Routes 2011-2012

    The school bus routes for the 2011-2012 school year for the St. Johns County School District were approved by the School Board at their May 10 meeting.
Four new bus routes are being added for next school year to accommodate growth in the Durbin Creek Elementary, PVPV/Rawlings Elementary and Fruit Cove Middle School areas, as well as an increase in the number of special needs students.  
The routes are available online at Persons without access to computers may visit any of the county public library locations, and staff will assist them in locating the website.
“Our intent is to provide the information prior to the end of school in an attempt to improve communications with parents,” said Joe Purvis, Director of Transportation.
During July, postcards will be sent home to parents of all potential bus riders giving them the bus stop, times and bus number for their students.
There will be 166 school buses transporting approximately 18,200 children twice a day when school starts on Monday, August 22.


Crimestoppers Poster Contest Winners

   The Seventh Judicial District announced the winners of the annual Crimestoppers poster contest at the May 10 meeting of the St. Johns County School Board.
Elementary winners were First Place-Sydney Felmet, Mill Creek Elementary School, fourth grade; Second Place-Peyton Pitcher, Hartley Elementary School (HES), fourth grade; and Third Place-Christina Derrick, HES, fifth grade.
Murray Middle School eighth graders swept the awards at the middle school level for the second year in a row, with Sophia Baldwin taking first place, Melanie Walter taking second place, and Scott Haupt taking third place.
All of the high school winners were juniors from St. Augustine High School and included First Place, Cheyenne Nix; Second Place, Olivia Hodapp; and Third Place, Amber Cox.
The annual contest is co-sponsored by the Seventh Judicial District, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and the St. Johns County School District. This year’s theme was “Make Your School, Your World, a Better Place.” Students created artwork that stressed a shared responsibility for student safety and conduct.
State Attorney R. J. Larizza, St. Johns County School District Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner and School Board members presented the awards. Besides ribbons and award certificates, each of the first place winners received $100, second place winners $50, and third place winners $25.
The Executive Director of Crimestoppers of Northeast Florida is Shira Johnson. St. Johns County Coordinators were Ashley Vece, Victims’ Advocate for the Seventh Judicial District, and Tommy Bledsoe, school district Arts Program Specialist.

Volunteers of the Year

 Three individuals were honored as St. Johns County’s 2010-2011 Outstanding Volunteers of the Year at the Fourth Annual Volunteer Recognition Reception held recently at First Coast Technical College.  They were also recognized at the School Board meeting held last evening.
Mary Allison Cook, this year’s Outstanding Senior Volunteer, came to Crookshank Elementary School (CES) more than five years ago when her granddaughter was in third grade. She also recruited her 88-year-old mother to volunteer with her, and her daughter is one of the district’s Instructional Literacy Coaches. Ms. Cook assists young students in becoming independent, creative writers through Writing Workshop and has a waiting list of students requesting her help.  
Mrs. M. J. Roy, a volunteer at Timberlin Creek Elementary School (TCES), received the 2010-2011 Outstanding Adult Volunteer designation.  She has served as a homeroom parent, “Meet the Artist” parent, carnival parent, yearbook parent and school cafeteria volunteer.  This outstanding volunteer also initiated the “Going Green” project at TCES. Mrs. Roy teaches French to second graders and has gone to the local high school to help students speak French more fluently.  
Abbey Mason was selected as the district’s Outstanding Youth Volunteer for this year.  She has displayed consistent care for children over many years and continues to be actively involved in service while attending college. While attending Creekside High School (CHS) she was instrumental in working with movie nights and other projects at CES. Abbey feels that volunteers were influential in helping her to do well, and she gave back to students by providing instructional reading assistance through caring, personal relationships.  
This year awards were also given to runners-up in each category. In the Youth Category, Emily Bennett of Rogers Middle School, Chris Rardon of St. Johns Technical High School, Connor Rhine of Pacetti Bay Middle School and Jacob Sambursky of CHS were recognized for their volunteer efforts.  
Runners-up in the Adult Category included Angie Conlan of Durbin Creek Elementary School, Amelia Hutcherson of St. Augustine High School, Lisa Lloyd of Ketterlinus Elementary School, Kerri Murphy of Fruit Cove Middle School and Brette Reiman of The Webster School.
In the Senior Category, Louis Thomas Collins of CHS, Debbie Dunn of Osceola Elementary School and Jennie Veal of PVPV-Rawlings Elementary School were honored for their efforts.  
In addition to the announcement of these outstanding volunteers, the School Volunteer Coordinators were also recognized. The 106 individuals honored at this event were just a few of the 9,702 volunteers who contributed more than 261,902 hours of service to the public schools during the past year. Cheryl Freeman serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for the school district. .

Jeff Holt Scholarship

   A special scholarship fund has been established with the St. Johns County Education Foundation (SJCEF) in memory of Jeff Holt, a teacher at Murray Middle School (MMS) for the past 25 years.
Mr. Holt served as a dean and guidance counselor at MMS before becoming a teacher. He taught gifted social studies and Cambridge studies to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. He also served as a coach for 20 years in Florida and led the girls basketball team at St. Augustine High School to their first state Final Four.
Mr. Holt was a favorite teacher as shown by his many student nominations as their most inspiring teacher at the Students Taking Academic Responsibility (STAR) Banquet or as their mentor at the American Youth Character Awards (AYCA) Banquet.
The scholarship fund will be used to cover registration fees for the American College Test (ACT) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) for students who are unable to pay for these tests.
Donations should be made payable to the St. Johns County Education Foundation. Individuals wishing to contribute can donate online at They may also mail a check made out to the SJCEF and earmarked for the Jeff Holt Scholarship Fund to the St. Johns County School District, Community Relations Department, 40 Orange Street, St. Augustine, FL 32084.

Academy Awards

  The St. Johns County School District hosted its annual Academy Awards on Thursday, May 5 at the new Northeast Regional Airport Conference Center. The event celebrates business and community partners who are involved in the school district’s career academies.   Highlight of the evening was the presentation of two special Awards of Distinction. The National Safety Commission (NSC) was named Business Partner of the Year for expanding its support to all six district career academies through a service-learning project focusing on the dangers of distracted driving.
NSC actively participates in the project by providing industry knowledge, marketing guidance and in-kind promotional materials to the Communications Academy at Nease High School, which is coordinating the campaign. Partners from NSC also conduct school presentations on driver’s safety and have created a fundraising opportunity as a sustainable means of revenue for the academies. Dennis Oistacher and Kelly Barrera received the award on behalf of NSC. They have been active business partners with the Academy of International Business and Marketing at Ponte Vedra High School and the Communications Academy over the past two years.  They serve on the advisory board, provide input on curriculum and academy activities and offer internships to academy students.
The Rookie Partner of the Year award went to Donna Keathley of Keathley Fashions for her involvement in Bartram Trail High School’s Academy of Design and Construction. Ms. Keathley is a member of the advisory board and has helped arrange student internships, student modeling opportunities and fashion displays featuring student designs.
Three student teams were also recognized for their Project Green engineering projects focusing on “green” building concepts. First place went to Team ECO at Pedro Menendez High School for their unique campsite design. Second place was awarded to Green Chiquitas of Bartram Trail High School for a mall design using low cost alternative energy. Third place went to Team Midori of Creekside High School for their design of an addition to their school to make it more energy efficient.
In addition, scholarships were presented to students from the following business partners: the Air Force Association – Falcon Chapter, Flagler Hospital, Northeast Florida Builders Charitable Foundation, St. Augustine Sunrise Rotary Club, St. Johns Builders Council, Stellar and Vystar Credit Union.
Partner time and resources dedicated to career academy students has been valued at more than $3.1 million. This “value-added” calculation takes into account the time and resources of more than 8,932 hours of involvement including student and teacher internships, guest speakers, field trip hosts, judges for student competitions, advisory board membership and donations of cash or equipment.  
Paula Chaon, Director for Career Education, was the event coordinator. For more information, you may visit the school district website at

Administrative Changes

  Superintendent Joseph Joyner has announced several administrative changes effective July 1.
The upcoming retirements of several key administrators, along with the desire to better utilize individual talents and leadership skills, have necessitated these moves.   Dawn Sapp, Assistant Principal at St. Augustine High School (SAHS) for the past six years, has been named the new principal of Bartram Trail High School (BTHS). She succeeds Brennan Asplen, who will become Executive Director of Human Resources upon the retirement of Jim Springfield. Ms. Sapp has worked for the school district since 1991 and served as the Registrar and Assistant Principal of the Ninth Grade Academy at BTHS.
Wayne King, Principal at Landrum Middle School (LMS) for the past four years, will become the new principal of St. Johns Technical High School (SJTHS). He has 14 years experience in the school district as a teacher and administrator at the Gaines Alternative Center, the Evelyn Hamblen Center, SJTHS and Switzerland Point Middle School.
Emily Harrison, Assistant Principal at Fruit Cove Middle School since 2006, will become the new principal of LMS.  She also worked as a gifted teacher at Cunningham Creek Elementary School for one year and has six years of elementary school teaching experience. Ms. Harrison is Florida’s 2010-2011 Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year.
Joy Taylor will move from SJTHS to Hartley Elementary School to replace retiring Principal Mary Seymour. Ms. Taylor was a teacher at Hastings High School and Ketterlinus Middle School before being transferred to administrative positions at Switzerland Point Middle School, SAHS, Ketterlinus Elementary School and SJTHS.
Other principal retirements have resulted in additional staff transfers. Kim Dixon, Assistant Principal at Murray Middle School (MMS), will replace Theresa Grady as principal at Mason Elementary School (MES). Ms. Dixon was selected as the 2002-2003 District Teacher of the Year when she taught at Hastings Elementary School and has been an Assistant Principal at MMS for the past six years.
Sandra McMandon, Assistant Principal at MES since 2006, will take retiring principal Dr. Patricia Falaney’s place at Durbin Creek Elementary School. A product of St. Johns County Schools, Ms. McMandon has been employed by the district since 1993. She taught at both Julington Creek and Cunningham Creek Elementary Schools (CCES) and also served as an Assistant Principal at South Woods Elementary School and Rogers Middle School.
Betsy Wierda, Director of Professional Development for the past year, will succeed Mike Parrish as principal at Ocean Palms Elementary School. Prior to taking a district position, Ms. Wierda spent five years as principal at CCES.
“I am very excited about our new slate of principals,” said Dr. Joyner. “All of these educators are outstanding instructional leaders and are committed to the importance of high quality teachers.  I was also very pleased to see such a strong group of local candidates, which is a testament to our leadership development program. Most importantly, these educators all possess strength of character, which will serve the children of our district for many years to come.”

FCAT Writing

St. Johns County students continue to improve and score above the state average on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) Writing.
Tenth grade students were first in the state, up from fourth place last year. Eighth grade students moved up from tied for seventh to tied for sixth place. Fourth grade students moved from second to tied for fifteenth place but still increased their average score by nine percentage points.  
At every grade level St. Johns County students surpassed the state average on the percentage of students whose performance was rated as proficient. This year the state raised the proficiency level on FCAT Writing from 3.5 to 4.0.
The percentage of St. Johns County tenth graders who scored at 4.0 or above was 84 percent compared to the state average of 75 percent, a six percent increase over last year. The percentage of proficient eighth grade scores was 89 percent compared to 82 percent for the state, an eight percent increase over last year. The percentage of fourth graders scoring on grade level was 84 percent compared to the state average of 81 percent, a nine percent increase over last year.
District students also exceeded the state mean level or average score. The district’s tenth grade students had an average score of 4.3 compared to 4.0 for the state. Eighth grade students scored 4.4, compared to the state average 4.2, and fourth graders scored 4.1, compared to the state average of 4.0. Essays are scored on a scale of 0-6 with a score of 4.0 considered proficient.
“I am so pleased with our outstanding writing scores,” said Superintendent Joseph Joyner. “We issued a challenge when we found out about the increased passing score, and our students more than exceeded it. Staying on par and using last year’s scores, we anticipated a 12 percent drop. That didn’t happen and overall, the number of 4.0s increased at almost every school, some as high as 21 percent.”
Schools showing the greatest increases were South Woods Elementary School and Wards Creek Elementary School (21 percent), Rogers Middle School (20 percent), Crookshank Elementary (18 percent), St. Augustine High School (16 percent), Durbin Creek Elementary and Liberty Pines Academy (15 percent) and PV/PV-Rawlings (13 percent).
FCAT Writing is part of a statewide educational accountability program designed to measure students’ proficiency in writing in grades four, eight and ten. Students are required to write a response to a prompt on an assigned topic within a 45-minute time period. This year all writing prompts were expository essays, and essays were scored by only one reader.
Individual student score reports are expected to be available by the end of next week. Additional information can be found at