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Messages from the Superintendent

Message from the Superintendent – April 23, 2019

Dear Parents,

Last week I made the decision to cancel district-created and teacher-created final exams due to technical issues that could not be corrected in a timely manner. This decision does not apply to the following assessments: iReady, Florida Standards Assessment (FSA), state End of Course (EOC) exams, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Dual Enrollment or Cambridge AICE.

Given the decision above, I feel it is important “to do no harm” to student final grades for this year. Elementary students’ grades will not be impacted by the cancellation of these exams. After consulting with various school-based administrators, teachers and students, I have determined that students in grades 6-12 will receive the maximum value possible for the district final exam in the affected courses. There are students who were counting on this opportunity to earn percentage points that could make a difference in their grades. We will give students the full benefit of the doubt and the maximum exam score (100%) will be provided in the affected courses.

Second semester final grades in the affected middle and high school courses will be calculated as follows: The 3rd quarter and 4th quarter grades each maintain a weight of 45% to the final grade. The district final exam maintains a weight of 10% and maximum points will be given. The district final exam portion of the grade will have the greatest impact for students who are within a point or two of the next higher letter grade (for example: with maximum points on the district final exam, a student with an 89, B, average will advance to a 90, A, for the final grade).

Again, I am sorry for this change so late in the school year, but feel it is the right decision for both students and teachers. Thank you for your support and I look forward to a positive close to the 2018-2019 school year.

Sincerely,

Tim Forson
Superintendent
St. Johns County School District

Message from the Superintendent – April 18, 2019

Dear school district staff and school families,

After thorough review and monitoring, I have made the decision to cancel our District final exams. This decision does not include iReady testing.

During this first week of testing, we have experienced significant issues with the administration of the computer based tests. I am thankful for our District staff that have worked many hours into the evening trying to resolve the issues we have observed. I am also appreciative of the patience of school staff and students as we have worked diligently to improve the performance of the computer based testing system. Ultimately, I felt we needed to cancel the District computer based and paper based exams to remove the frustration of inconsistent test administration and protect instructional time.

Students need the opportunity to continue to learn each day from our teachers and be at their best for other required upcoming assessments. On the horizon are several high stakes assessments including the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA), state End Of Course (EOC) exams, and several other secondary exams such as AP, AICE, IB, and Industry Certification. These assessments are not done on the same testing platform as our district exams and I have full confidence in their administration.

We will be certain to adjust our second semester grading scale so that the absence of a final exam will not penalize a student. We will also adjust the student performance element of the teacher evaluation in a fair and equitable manner. As soon as an alternative grading plan is finalized it will be communicated to our teachers, parents, and students.

I am sorry for this change so late in the school year, but feel it is the right decision for both students and teachers. Additional communication will follow as soon as a revised grading plan is finalized.

Sincerely,

Mr. Tim Forson
Superintendent of Schools
St. Johns County School District

Message from the Superintendent – September 11, 2018

Dear Parents and Families,

I recognize that there has been some feedback and concern regarding the school safety videos that have been shown to all students and staff at our schools. I sincerely apologize for any stress or uncertainty that you may have experienced in anticipation of this activity.  I do feel the videos are a vital instructional tool to help our students and staff be prepared should an emergency ever occur in one of our schools.

I would like to briefly share the purpose and structure of the videos. The SJSO worked with school district staff during the development and production of the active shooter videos to provide consistency of delivery throughout the district. These videos were used during a presentation by the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office (SJSO) and the school district on school safety.    There were four videos designed to be age appropriate as well as a video specifically designed for school district staff.   The videos instruct students and staff on ways to respond if there is an active shooter on campus.  They include the “Always Rules” that have been posted on the district website at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/schoolservices/safety/ and the importance of staying as calm as possible.  Also on the district website are resources for talking to your children about tragic events www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/gpc/ if the conversation continues at home or in other settings.

Other elements of the videos I feel should not be shared as they were recorded in our schools, with our students and describe steps to be taken by students and staff.  The need to keep them secure does not imply that SJSO or the school district wants to be secretive and not transparent.  It does reflect our commitment to the highest level of safety possible and the need to protect our emergency operation plans. I want what each of you want, safe schools and well developed plans for responding to emergencies.  I wish the need for these plans and activities did not exist, but in today’s world they are a necessity.

Please know your feedback is important as it relates to refining the training and information provided to our students and staff.  I appreciate your continued support as we work to keep your children as safe as possible while in our care.

Sincerely,

Tim Forson
Superintendent of Schools
St. Johns County School District

Message from the Superintendent – March 20, 2018

Good Evening Parents and Families,

The recent tragic events of school shootings have shaken the comfort and confidence of school communities and citizens nationwide. In response, within our school district, we have spent a great deal of time listening to students, parents, teachers and our community members before making final decisions about tactics to enhance safety in our schools.

Most disappointing has been recent prank messages and statements of bomb threats and school shootings. It is disruptive and endangers the community every single time resources are diverted to respond to fake threats. As a school district we will continue to enforce our disciplinary actions in alignment with our Student Code of Conduct. As your superintendent, I will continue to work with law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate these incidents and will encourage prosecution when warranted. I cannot and will not tolerate this selfish, irresponsible behavior.

While we live in a time of instant news feeds and rapid information, as a school district we must protect the communication related to student information which sometimes includes discipline received. I hope that you will trust in the process and procedures we have in place to deal with these situations and the consequences set forth.

We must be a community that supports one another and speaks up when we see inappropriate behavior. Lives are being put at-risk because of the poor actions and decisions of others. I encourage you to speak with your children about reporting behaviors that could be threatening to others. I am committed to enhancing safety within our schools and appreciate your continued support in this task.

Sincerely,

Tim Forson
Superintendent of Schools
St Johns County School District

Message from the Superintendent – February 15, 2018

Good afternoon, this is Tim Forson Superintendent of St. Johns County schools. Today our hearts go out to the families impacted by the tragic school shooting in Parkland, FL. Unfortunately, these events serve as a reminder of why it is so important that we constantly review and evaluate the safety of our schools. I have been in contact with Sheriff Shoar, together we are committed to continuing our work to ensure the highest level of safety for our schools. Please know that school safety is an integral part of the daily operations.

We have placed on our school district website resources that may be useful when talking to your children about this type of event. Our schools are also prepared to assist students that may need support and our school guidance counselors are available to speak with any student or parents in need.

In closing, we ask that you and your children focus on situational awareness. When children or adults are faced with the decision on whether or not to tell law enforcement about something that seems suspicious, it is imperative that we always think about our safety and the safety of others first.

Thank you very much for your continued support of our schools.

Tim Forson
Superintendent of Schools
St Johns County School District