PBC school district keeping an eye on the weather

Meteorologists aren’t the only ones in South Florida keeping an eye on that mass of bad weather in the tropics that could turn into something more over the weekend. Wednesday afternoon, parents received an email from the Palm Beach County School District that they too are watching.

Photo by Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post
Photo by Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post

The email noted:

We will continue to monitor the weather today and throughout the week, and will provide updates as needed through social media, the District’s website, and alerts through the ParentLink system. Follow the District on Twitter at @pbcsd or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pbcsd.

Parents and guardians will receive emergency phone calls or text messages using the contact information provided to their child’s school. District employees will receive emergency notifications based on the contact information provided in PeopleSoft.

Want to keep up with the weather before you find out school is cancelled or your weekend plans scuttled?

Follow The Post’s weather reporter Kim Miller on Twitter  @KMillerWeather and read her WeatherPlus blog.

 

District invites 75 more students to Dreyfoos, Suncoast; buses prep for 1st day

Seventy-five students were called two weeks ago and given what many in the district consider golden tickets to seats in two of the most in-demand high school programs in the county.dreyfoosdance

District administrators gave the green light to open 25 more seats at Alexander Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach and 50 additional spots at Suncoast High’s school’s various programs including the coveted International Baccalaureate.

The space had been available at those schools, but money for the necessary additional teachers had not until now, said Pete Licata, director of the district’s choice programs.

Superintendent Robert Avossa announced the additions in his back-to-school press conference Monday morning, a week before students return to school.

Most of those seats went to freshmen and some to sophomores chosen by lottery from the waiting pool created after last spring’s original lottery, Licata said.

Avossa also noted that the district will be opening new choice programs next week. Details on that to come.

Monday also saw the second mock run for the district’s buses.

(Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
(Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Avossa said the second go in two weeks was intended to work out potential routing problems. Other efforts to avoid last year’s debacle include 60 new buses and 100 more drivers than last year, when the year started with a shortage of 50 drivers. As a result, this year begins with the bus compound full staffed with drivers and 50 “on the bench,” he said.

“The first 10 days of school is always going to be a challenge,” Avossa said.

Parents and students will be able to see where their bus stop will be picking up and dropping off when the Find My Bus Stop site goes live Wednesday, Aug. 10.

 

 

 

Fire eater, cheerleaders for Clinton: A look back at 5 Avossa headaches

Avossa InterviewToday’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:

West Boca High Principal Mark Stenner giving this year's graduation speech.
West Boca High Principal Mark Stenner giving last year’s graduation speech.
  1. 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”?

File photo (Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Daily News)
File photo (Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Daily News)

2. School bus crisis from Day 1Nearly 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

Suncoast High students at Tuesday's rally for Hillary Clinton
Suncoast High students at Tuesday’s rally for Hillary Clinton

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.”

Former stuntman Ricky "Inferno" Charles in the Atlantic High School gym, March 17, 2016, in Delray Beach, Florida, runs while on fire. (Photo provided)
Former stuntman Ricky “Inferno” Charles in the Atlantic High School gym, March 17, 2016, in Delray Beach, Florida, runs while on fire. (Photo provided)

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.”

Palm Beach Lakes student Joseph Trahan, left, addresses the Palm Beach County School Board with teacher Malik Leigh at his side, March 16, 2016, at the school district in West Palm Beach. (Palm Beach County School District)
Palm Beach Lakes student Joseph Trahan, left, addresses the Palm Beach County School Board with teacher Malik Leigh at his side, March 16, 2016, at the school district in West Palm Beach. (Palm Beach County School District)

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.

 

PBC schools seeking more bus drivers; Job fair Friday

060713 met school bus 2The school district continues to seek bus drivers and is holding another job fair Friday, April 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its Summit Boulevard compound.

This is the first job fair since the Palm Beach County School Board signed off on raises that brought a driver’s minimum pay up to $14 an hour. Drivers also get full health benefits, life insurance and a retirement plan.

The district also dusting off a recruitment tool it has used in the past but not recently :  putting out a robo-call to the parents on its phone list. The move has already landed more than 200 inquiries, said district spokeswoman Kathy Burstein.

The district is looking to fill 44 substitute driving positions as well as build a stable of drivers ahead of the beginning of next school year. Last year, school began with a shortage.

Palm Beach County isn’t the only district to struggle this year with driver shortages. The Orlando Sentinel reported earlier that Seminole County and others in Central Florida were “having a hard time recruiting and keeping bus drivers.” The culprit, an improving economy that lures some to jobs that pay more and are less stressful.

In its appeal to job seekers, the Palm Beach County district noted drivers get “paid sick leave and a flexible work schedule so you can spend time with your family.”

The district provides the training required to be a certified driver.

From the district’s announcement: “It is our goal to ensure that each student we transport arrives safely to their assigned destination in the most efficient manner possible,” said newly-appointed Transportation Director Pete DiDionato. “We have a great team of dedicated individuals coming together for a common goal, but we need your help.”

“It is our goal to ensure that each student we transport arrives safely to their assigned destination in the most efficient manner possible,” said newly-appointed Transportation Director Pete DiDionato. “We have a great team of dedicated individuals coming together for a common goal, but we need your help.”

 

Interested in becoming a driver?

When: Fri. April 15, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: 3300 Summit Blvd. West Palm Beach

Requirements:

  • You must be a licensed driver for 5 years and have a good driving record with not more than one moving violation in the past three years and not have a DUI charge for the previous 7 years.
  • You must be of good character; be able to clear the district’s background check, drug screening, a DOT physical and be able to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License.

You can also call 561-242-6515 or apply online