Florida education officials have given school districts additional time to administer the Florida Standards Assessments, known as FSA for short.
But, the Pasco County School Board wants to avoid penalizing its teachers, students or schools based on results from the assessments.
Board member Alison Crumbley raised the issue during the board’s meeting on Feb. 16.
“In my opinion, the FSA testing is possibly going to be more valuable than ever this year because we need to find out our strengths and our weaknesses, and everything during the COVID year, and find where we need extra work or what have you.
“But, for school grade assessment and high stakes assessment, personally, I think they should be put on hold,” Crumbley said.
“Teachers I don’t feel should be held responsible when their MSOL (MySchool Online) students aren’t participating well, and they’re struggling, for example, and our school grades, I don’t see how they can be considered accurate, during these COVID-related times,” Crumbley said.
She asked the board to put those requests in the district’s legislative platform, and for the board to pass a resolution on the issue.
Other board members agreed.
School board member Megan Harding said, “I just know from hearing from our teachers. Mrs. Crumbley, especially the MySchool Online teachers, they still have kiddos that are not showing up. And they’re being tested and that’s part of their evaluation.”
Crumbley responded: “It’s really not fair to them, in my opinion.”
School board member Colleen Beaudoin concurred: “I agree with you, too. I support us trying to do something.”
School board member Cynthia Armstrong told her colleagues: “Just so you know, that is on the FSBA (Florida School Boards Association) platform — that although testing is important, that we really curb the punitive damages that the test results could have on students, and on teachers and school grades and so on.”
She agreed with her peers that they could add the issue to the Pasco School Board’s legislative platform.
Pasco Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning said the Florida Association of District School Superintendents is finalizing its platform. “I believe there is something about removing the impacts of testing for this year.”
Pasco School Board members are expected to vote on a resolution on this issue during the March 2 morning meeting. Following that meeting, the board plans to hold a workshop on its legislative platform.
On another issue, board member Beaudoin raised the issue of seeking out revenue sources to find a way to improve salaries at all levels in the district.
“Our students deserve to have the best teachers and administrators. It’s becoming more difficult for us to compete with our neighboring districts.
“And, I’m committed to finding a way to increase pay for teachers and administrators.
“I think we have to explore other revenue sources to be competitive with our salaries at all levels. So, I hope my colleagues and staff will be open to having that discussion,” Beaudoin said.
Kevin Shibley, the district’s executive director for administration, informed board members about rising costs relating to COVID-19-related health care claims.
“We’ve been asking Blue Cross Blue Shield to track claims being run through our health plan that are specifically related to COVID.
“They started with five-figure numbers, in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. For the month of December, alone, we had over $1.2 million of COVID-related claims, among our employee population.
“So, we’re going to continue to monitor that, but that could mean that we are going to be in for a rough renewal for health care this coming year,” Shibley said.
Betsy Kuhn, the district’s assistant superintendent for support services, shared a couple of pieces of good news with the board.
She told them about $43,000 had been raised through a cooperative effort, with public and private entities, to help feed the hungry.
That money has been used to purchase $40 Publix gift cards that will be given to families that have been identified by district social workers as needing help.
The cards will be distributed before spring break, Kuhn said.
On another matter, Kuhn thanked Idlewild Baptist Church for donating $17,000 to pay off meal debt for Pasco students.
“This donation will eliminate meal debt for 4,371 students,” Kuhn said. “The pastor said that the church community wanted to let families in the area know that they have support, even in these uncertain times, and to be a source of hope during the pandemic.”
Published February 24, 2021