The school district is adding some new cuisine to school menus this school year, which starts Monday. The items are meant to reflect the diversity among students and what they eat at home, district officials say.
One difference this year is salads. Romaine lettuce will replace iceberg, to increase nutrition. Here’s how the district’s taste test went:
Here’s the full list:
Asian green beans
Beef & Bean Fiesta Burrito
Italian Sub Combo (Freshly made Sub w/ baked chips)
Ham & Cheese Sub Combo (Freshly made Sub w/ baked chips)
Turkey & Cheese Sub Combo (Freshly made Sub w/ baked chips)
Pepper Jack Mini Cheeseburger Twins
Romaine lettuce will replace iceberg lettuce in salads to increase nutritional value
Today’s the last day of school for Palm Beach County’s 183,000 or so public school students. It also winds up the first school year for the district’s new Superintendent Robert Avossa. We take a look back on some of his biggest headaches this year:
Plagiarizing principal: Before the school year even began, Avossa faced a question about West Boca High’s Mark Stenner, the principal whose graduation speeches were nearly verbatim material from another speech – for two years in a row. A committee of Stenner’s peers recommended five days of suspension, but Avossa wasn’t happy with that, saying he wanted a 10-day suspension without pay. Then he reconsidered again and opted to remove Stenner from his job.
“I have to be honest with you, I’m not happy with the process.” The question, he said, is can this process be viewed by the public as “people protecting colleagues”?
2. School bus crisis from Day 1: Nearly 40 percent of the 630 school bus routes were late or didn’t show up at all. The superintendent showed up at Grassy Waters Elementary on the first day of school in August, but none of the school’s six buses did. Little did he know there was a big problem, and it was to last about six weeks. Avossa later called transportation officials “tone deaf” and criticized them for not heeding bus driver warnings about a new software program that rejiggered all the routes. He was furious they did not raise flags the new routes and being short staffed with drivers earlier.
“No one came and said the Titanic was sinking,” he said
3. Suncoast cheerleaders, band play at Clinton rally: He got the heads up from Twitter. Avossa said he saw the Tweets and knew someone had violated district policy about political activity. It was a Hillary Clinton rally at the Port of Palm Beach. Suncoast High cheerleaders and the band played for about 600 supporters as former President Bill Clinton stood in for his wife. Avossa said he was dismayed that a soon-to-retire veteran principal, Linda Cartlidge, didn’t know better.
“Quite frankly, I’m disappointed,” Avossa said. “It’s clearly against district policy to be engaged in any political activity.”
4. Atlantic High fire-breather stunt: Kids packed the gymnasium at Atlantic High on St. Patrick’s Day for a pep rally featuring Ricky “Inferno” Charles breathing flames as another performer raced over them to dunk a basketball. The dunk worked out fine, but then screams erupted as 2,000 teens saw Charles’ face on fire. As Charles was taken the hospital, video of the flames lit up the Internet. Turns out Atlantic wasn’t the first high school in the county to host the fire-breather, but after his burns, Charles say he’s retiring from the fire business.
Meanwhile Avossa was “shocked.”
It’s “just common sense not to have any kind of fire in a school. When you put fire in a building, this is a problem.”
5. Teachers let go, geometry subs all year: Turmoil at Palm Beach Lakes: It started with a visit by high school teachers to a school board meeting to complain of a “toxic” atmosphere at Palm Beach Lakes High under Principal Cheryl McKeever. Then a student appeared in March, saying he and his honors classmates had a series of substitutes teaching their geometry class for most of the year and they were worried they couldn’t pass end-of-year exams because they learned the bulk of the subject matter from watching videos. Malik Leigh, a teacher from the law academy, came with them.
The next day, children were called to the office and questioned. McKeever told the kids and their parents that they had run the full-time teacher out. A few months later, Leigh filed suit after his contract wasn’t renewed. His suit claimed McKeever had retaliated against a number of teachers by not hiring them back for next year. A week later, Leigh was suspended because his final exam was “inappropriate,” including questions about Donald Trump and being “screwed” if he’s elected.
During a joint meeting to smooth over differences, Palm Beach County commissioners and school board members agreed on a joint plan to raise the county’s 6-cent sales tax by a penny on the dollar.
Commissioners and school board members had previously agreed on the broad outlines of the tax increase, which would generate $2.7 billion over 10 years for repairs to roads, bridges, schools and county buildings. School board members expressed concern, however, when commissioners changed the plan, stripping out a combined $161 million in funding for cultural projects and for economic development incentives.
On Tuesday at Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth campus, commissioners and school board members agreed to a revised plan, which includes a provision to end the tax early if $2.7 billion is generated earlier than 10 years.
What projects could be funded with from sales tax revenue?
Two Palm Beach Lakes teachers have alerted Superintendent Robert Avossa that they believe their principal and the area superintendent are harassing and intimidating students who spoke out about their lack of a geometry teacher at a school board meeting earlier this week.
They also repeat claims the students made after school Thursday that Principal Cheryl McKeever told the geometry students they don’t have a teacher because they ran off the job candidate.
McKeever did not respond to comment Friday morning.
But the students’ treatment at the hands of both McKeever and Area Superintendent Camille Coleman were the subject of emails to Avossa.
According to one email: “I would like to tell you that there is a high degree of intimidation by the Head Principal, Dr. McKeever.
“Yesterday in 7th Period, she summoned the kids into the auditorium and berated them about this issue,” the teacher wrote Friday morning.
The teacher went on to say that McKeever threw the blame on the students, saying, “The kids do not have a teacher because they ran him off, implying that their issue was one of their making.”
The teacher continued: “I will not sit back and tolerate blatant harassment and intimidation and victim blaming by anyone. Both Dr. McKeever AND area superintendent, Coleman (I believe was her name) have both attempted this. In fact, Ms. Coleman showed a level of disrespect that is unbecoming her position to the kids’ faces.”
Coleman told the Palm Beach Post Friday that she spoke to the students after the meeting per the direction of School Board Chairman Chuck Shaw.
“I noted their concerns, discussed possible resolutions and assured the that these concerns would be addressed,” Coleman said in a email.
A second teacher also emailed the superintendent about Thursday’s fallout:
“One of the students who was at the school board yesterday just came and told me he was put in a room … asked questions and then asked to sign an affidavit about his complaints outside the presence of his parents. This is just wrong,” the teacher wrote.
Coleman said she was not at these meetings, but a representative from the district’s personnel office was.
“Several of the issues brought forward by the student required follow-up. Most importantly, the principal was directed to ensure that a certified teacher covers the class-load full-time as opposed to the math coach supporting a substitute,” Coleman wrote.
Sophomores Joseph Trahan and Lemuel Gadson said they were interviewed individually in the presence of Darron Davis, an employee in the district’s human resources department.
Gadson said he felt he was called in to be interrogated about speaking at the board meeting and not the issue he, his classmates and their parents have been battling most of the year – the lack of a geometry teacher for an honors class.
Gadson, a basketball and football player, left Palm Beach Gardens High, a school regarded for its athletics program to attend Palm Beach Lakes’ Legal Academy.
And despite the rough time he’s had with math, he and the others who attended the board meeting, were most concerned that the school as a whole not get a black-eye.
“My parents are disgusted with this situation. I can’t tell you how many times they said I can’t believe you left Gardens to go to Lakes, but I love Palm Beach Lakes. A lot of kids feel the same way, they just don’t want to talk about it.”
In a case of perfect timing, just as the Palm Beach County School Board considers collaborating with the county to pursue a one penny sales tax, the committee that oversaw spending on the district’s last, now-expired sales tax has released its report on how that one went.
Only this month did the Palm Beach County School District close the books on the projects paid for by the half-cent sales tax that expired in 2010. The last project on those books was The Conservatory @ North Palm Beach school which opened a year ago, said David Porter, who served on the independent oversight committee that kept tabs on the projects.
The books closed, the committee, which last met three years ago, moved to reviewing the projects and the process and issued its final report March 4, Porter said. It was a report the committee intended to produce from the beginning, he said.
“We wanted to do that to show the public,” Porter said. That the report comes amid discussions of a new sales tax was both coincidental and fortunate, he said. “It wasn’t planned. We could’ve written it three years ago, but we wanted to wait until all the bills got paid.”
The board has agreed 5-2 to combine with the county to seek raising the sales tax, but gave the county commission until April 15 to commit to the joint effort.
Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa discussed the 7-page report titled “Promises Made/Promises Kept”at a media briefing before today’s (Wed. March 16) school board meeting.
That sales tax was a 1/2 cent sales tax approved by county voters in 2004 to remain in place for five years or until $560 million was raised.
In the end, the tax expired in 2010 after generating more than $651 million – the additional cash was because the sales tax had to run to the end of the calendar year.
The money was intended for the district’s construction program. Back then the district was rushing to keep up with a growing student body and demands of class size reduction.
According to the committee, 98 percent of the 161 projects were completed, and the four that weren’t got sidelined because by the time they rolled around students had moved and there weren’t enough to fill a new school.
The oversight committee (full name: Independent Sales Surtax Oversight Committee or ISSOC) was comprised of 13 “stakeholders”, most of them not employees of the district.
The committee met for seven years to review each construction project and its costs.
What did voters get for their money?
• 24 New and Replacement Schools • 23 Classroom Additions • 7 Pre-K Centers • 4 Auditoriums • 3 High School Stadiums • 47 Schools received Covered Walkways • 45 Schools received Computer Connectivity • 5 Career Academy Additions • 1 Swimming Pool
Update March 2017: The testing season is in full swing with Alg 1 testing possible in Palm Beach County from April 17 through May 12, 2017. Expect results in early June.
The Alg 1 end-of-course exam (EOC) is the only state-required EOC a student must pass to graduate. Students must also take EOCs in Geometry, Alg. 2, biology and US History. The scores must weigh 30 percent of the calculation of a course grade, but a passing score is not required. (Legislation this spring proposes to cut some EOCs, but any testing changes would not be in effect this year.)
The other must-pass test for graduation:
The 10th grade FSA ELA – that’s Florida Standards Assessment in English language arts, is the other state-mandated test students must pass to graduate.
So, let’s say you don’t pass…
Didn’t pass the Algebra 1 end-of-course exam or the 10th grade English/language arts test? These are your alternatives:
Take the same test and pass. Retakes are given several times a year.
Algebra 1: Get a comparative score of 97 on the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test or PERT mathematics assessment.
10 grade English/language arts:
Take the same test and pass. Retakes are given during the school year.
ELA:Get a concordant score of 430 on the SAT reading or 19 on the ACT reading.