The School Board of Escambia County, Florida, convened in Workshop Meeting at 9:00 a.m., in the Board Room, at the Dr. Vernon McDaniel (Administration) Building, 215 West Garden Street, Pensacola, Florida, with the following present:


Chairman:    Dr. John DeWitt

Vice Chairman:    Ms. Linda Finkelstein


Board Members:  Mr. Gary L. Bergosh

Mrs. Cary Stidham

Dr. Elmer Jenkins


School Board Attorney:    Mr. Francisco M. Negron, Jr.


Superintendent of Schools:    Mr. Norm Ross, Deputy Superintendent (represented Mr. Jim Paul)




Dr. DeWitt called the workshop to order at 9:07 a.m.

A.    Open Discussion


Juvenile Justice Board

Dr. DeWitt noted that the Board had received a request for appointment of a Board Member to the Juvenile Justice Board.  The Board collectively agreed to appoint Mr. Bergosh (who had volunteered to do so), to the Juvenile Justice Board.  Dr. DeWitt stated that he would notify the Juvenile Justice Board of the appointment. 


Elementary School Recess

Mr. Bergosh stated that a parent of a student at Blue Angels Elementary School had contacted him regarding elementary school ‘recess’.  Mr. Bergosh explained that while all elementary schools have ‘organized’ physical education classes, this parent felt that it would also be beneficial to have ‘recess’ built into the curriculum (for all elementary schools) as well.  The parent believed that if elementary school students were “cooped up all day,” and unable to release excess physical energy by way of ‘recess’, they would have difficulty learning.  Mr. Bergosh noted that he had contacted the principal of Blue Angels Elementary School, who advised that “teachers have discretion to take their kids outside whenever they deem it necessary.”  Dr. Jenkins stated that unless an in-depth study supported the idea of adding ‘recess’ to the curriculum, he believed that it should remain at the teachers’ discretion.  Mr. Paul Fetsko, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, explained that teachers are encouraged to allow time for ‘recess’, “if it fits into the (school) day.”  He noted that teachers are sensitive to students’ need for ‘recess’ and believed that it should remain at the teachers’ discretion, to find the right time in the school day to do so.


Recruitment and Hiring of Minority Teachers

[NOTE: The following comments were in response to criticism (via public meetings and the media) from several members of the community, regarding the recruitment and hiring of minority employees.]  Mr. Bergosh stated that he was ‘sensitive’ to this issue and had spoken with the Superintendent and Mr. Norm Ross, Deputy Superintendent, regarding his concerns.  Dr. Jenkins noted that he too, had concerns about this issue and believed that the District could “do a better job of explaining to the public why we don’t have many minority teachers.”  He suggested that a ‘recruitment team’ be established, that would be representative of the District, by consisting of majority and minority teachers and administrators. He also suggested that the District work with local agencies (i.e., Chamber of Commerce, credit unions) to develop ‘incentives’ for new recruits, such as low-interest loans or reduced rent for a year.  Mrs. Stidham stated that “obviously what we are doing now is not working, so I think that (recruiting process) needs to be revamped.”  Dr. DeWitt noted that several members of the community had requested to meet with the Board and Superintendent to discuss this issue.  The Board and Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) agreed to schedule a Special Workshop on September 17, 2002, at 5:00 p.m., for the purpose of discussing the recruitment and hiring of minority teachers.  Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) stated that this issue was of “high priority” with the Superintendent and staff.  He noted that the current recruiting process would be evaluated and a new ‘action plan’ developed.  Dr. Jenkins suggested that the recruitment of male teachers also be reviewed, noting that there was currently a shortage of both majority and minority male teachers. 


Student Fighting/Riots

The Board recognized Ms. Mary Caldwell, who expressed her concerns regarding an increase in student fighting (i.e., riots and gangs) at Pensacola High School, which she believed may have resulted from previous changes in school attendance zones.  Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) acknowledged that there had been a recent increase in student fighting at Pensacola High School.  He assured the Board that staff was “working extremely hard to get control over what seems to be a rash of misconduct by a small population of students.”  He stated that increasing supervision at several school campuses would be helpful, but noted that “to bring a campus such as Pensacola High School up to 70% with regards to supervision would require 80 additional individuals.”  Ms. Finkelstein believed that if Pensacola High School was in need of additional supervision assistance, if even for a limited amount of time, then the District needed to able to offer that assistance.




Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) listed the additions, deletions, amendments and corrections to the agenda.



Minutes for all August meetings will be presented for Board approval.



1.   Report from Mike Burns, Legislative Consultant to the School Board

Mr. Burns gave the following report:

Small School Requirement – (NOTE: Ms. Finkelstein had requested information on this legislation.) This particular legislation (Section 1013.43 of the K-20 Education Code) was ‘passed’ during the last legislative session.  This requirement does not apply to plans for new educational facilities already under architectural contract before July 1, 2003.


2.  Report from Mike Adkins, Audit Committee

Mr. Adkins noted that Ms. Alita Hudson, University of West Florida was recently appointed to the Audit Committee.  He stated that the Committed had approved a follow-up report on the “Saturday School Program” at Weis Elementary School.  He advised that there were significant concerns regarding the issue of ‘extra pay’ received by employees for the “Saturday School Program,” and the potential for duplicate salary payments approved by different funding sources.  He noted that while the follow-up report dealt only with Weis Elementary School, the Committee believed that the potential for abuse of ‘extra pay’ provisions existed on a district-wide basis.  Mr. Adkins stated that the District did have policies designed to educate employees on the completion of time sheets in accordance with Florida Statutes and employees were notified regarding those administrative procedures.  However, based on the ‘findings’ at Weis Elementary School, the Committee felt that the internal controls could be insufficient to ensure compliance with those procedures on a district-wide basis.  He stated that the ‘extra pay’ issue had been added to the ‘work plan’ to be reviewed district-wide.  He advised that the Committee would continue to work with the Superintendent and the Internal Auditing Department to finalize the ‘work plan’ and would report to the Board at the October Regular Workshop.


Due to time constraints, the following item was moved forward on the agenda:


Annual Agreement: Professional Services – R & J Associates, Inc. (Item V.D.10)

(NOTE: This item was a request for approval, for the second year of a three-year annual agreement for consulting services to evaluate, assess the effectiveness and recommend changes to the magnet school program at Brentwood Elementary and Middle Schools.)  Dr. DeWitt stated that he would not support approval of this item, as the contractor providing the consulting services had not fulfilled timelines specified in the agreement (during the first year of the three-year annual agreement). He noted that a report prepared by the contractor, which contained several mistakes, had been sent to Washington D.C., a month late and without review and/or approval by the Board.

The Board recognized Ms. Regina Lipnick, Magnet Coordinator for Brentwood Elementary, who explained that before Brentwood Elementary became a magnet school, there had been a drop in student attendance.  She advised that since becoming a magnet school, the student attendance at Brentwood Elementary had increased and that there were now over 400 students on a waiting list.  She believed that the expertise provided by this particular contractor, was one of the ‘key factors’ in the growth and popularity of Brentwood Elementary.  While she acknowledged that timelines specified in the agreement were not previously adhered to, she noted that ‘reporting’ was only a minute part of the “valuable assistance and expertise” provided by the contractor.  In response to concerns expressed, Mr. John Dombroskie, Senior Purchasing Agent, confirmed that the agreement did include a clause, which stated that final payment could withheld until all deliverable items “have been submitted in a form satisfactory to the District."



A. Curriculum and Instruction

10.  The School District of Escambia County, Florida Elementary and Secondary Assessment and Remediation Plan]


(NOTE: This item was originally presented at the September 9, 2002 however, at the request of the Superintendent, it was deleted from the agenda.)

Upon inquiry by Ms. Finkelstein, Mr. Paul Fetsko, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, stated that this was a ‘plan’ that was required by the State.


B.  Finance

6.  Financial Status Report on Projects and Grants as of August 31, 2002

This item was discussed earlier in the meeting.


C.   Human Resources Services

1.  Instructional/Professional

d.  Out-of-Field

Although not questioning this particular item, several Board Members posed questions and expressed concerns regarding ‘out-of-field’:


Ms. Finkelstein questioned whether an ‘English’ certification (rather than a ‘reading’ certification) was adequate for teaching a reading course at the high school level.  Ms. Teenie Wehmeier, Certification Manager, stated that “it would depend on the course.”  She noted that in some cases, ‘English’ certification was appropriate and some cases ‘reading’ certification was required.


Mrs. Stidham stated that a teacher had contacted her regarding concerns that there were several coaches teaching ‘out-of-field’. She explained that the teacher believed that several coaches “were teaching ‘out-of-field’ because the courses that they (the coaches) are certified in did not have openings, and therefore, other teachers (with the appropriate certification for the course) were ‘bumped out’ so these (coaches) could take their places.”  Ms. Wehmeier acknowledged that there were several coaches teaching ‘out-of-field’ and “possibly there was an annual contract teacher that was not asked back, but normally there is more to it than that.”  Dr. DeWitt had heard similar concerns that several decisions were based on the principals’ idea that “we need to keep the coach, so we’ll get rid of the other teachers and he (the coach) can teach ‘out-of-field’ because we can’t get rid of a coach.”  Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) noted that concerns expressed (to Mrs. Stidham and Dr. DeWitt) “could be just pure speculation.”  He advised that this issue was a “school-based staffing decision” and asked that the Board allow the principals’ to address “why a particular decision was made.”


[NOTE: The following comments refer to criticism (via public meetings and the media) from several members of the community, regarding the recruitment and hiring of minority employees.]  Dr. Jenkins noted that in addition to concerns regarding the recruitment and hiring of minority employees, several members of the community had also raised concerns “about how majority and minority teachers are handled when it comes to allowing them to teach ‘out-of-field’.  Several members of the community believed that majority teachers were allowed to teach ‘out-of-field’ with time to finish certification requirements, while minority teachers were rarely given that opportunity.  Ms. Wehmeier stated that according to a recent study that she had conducted, there were “76 ‘out-of-field’ teachers (district-wide) and twenty percent (20%) are minority.”  She did not believe that “those number are that bad.”


2.  Reappointments

DeWitt, Gillis  Bratt           07/30/02 (4th Year AC)


In response to several inquiries, Dr. DeWitt noted for the record, that he shared no relation to this individual.


2.Education Support Personnel

d.   Suspensions

-   Employee #8601-9620-181, School Bus Operator, Transportation Department, be suspended without pay for five (5) working days effective Wednesday, September 18, 2002, for misconduct.


In response to concerns expressed by Mrs. Stidham, Dr. Doug Garber, Director of Human Resource Services, stated that he would ask Mr. Shawn Dennis, Director of Transportation, to provide the Board with additional information regarding this item.


D.   Purchasing

10.  Annual Agreement: Professional Services – R & J Associates, Inc.


This item was discussed earlier in the meeting.


15.  Unauthorized Purchase of Books

Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) stated that Ms. Lesa Morgan, principal of West Florida High School of Advanced Technology, would provide an explanation to the Board regarding the unauthorized purchase of “school agendas,” prior to the September Regular Meeting.


18.  Change Notice #5 to Purchase Order #234699 (A.E. New Jr., Inc.)

In response to concerns expressed by Dr. DeWitt, Mr. Ron Peacock, Director of Facilities Planning, agreed that this particular ‘change notice’ was “rather large in proportion to what we typically have.”  He explained that because there was “quite a bit of money left in the budget”, a ‘change notice’ was now required to incorporate certain items that were originally requested, but not included because the architect over-estimated the bid.  Mrs. Stidham questioned whether there was a “way to include a penalty” in the architects’ contract.  She noted that because those certain items were not included in the original “scope of the work, there could be a little bit more involved.  She was concerned that “it could have cost the District more money in the long run, then it would have if it was included in the original.”  Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, questioned whether the Board would “want to penalize an architect for designing a project,” noting that from the architect’s perspective, “he delivered significantly under the budget.”  Mr. Kirchharr noted that “to see a change order of this magnitude because the project came in so much under budget, is a very isolated incident.”


E.  Operations

1.  Facilities Planning

B. Miscellaneous

2. Crystal Ice House property acquisition

Mrs. Stidham stated that the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for Facilities had concerns regarding the cost for maintaining and insuring the facility and questions regarding how the facility would be used.  Mr. Ross (representing Mr. Jim Paul) stated that there were “several possibilities that would need to be explored.”


F. Student Transfers

No discussion was held.


G.   Internal Auditing

No discussion was held.



No items were submitted.



A.  Proposed Additions of Revisions to School District Rules

a.  Permission to Advertise


No items were submitted.

b.  Permission to Adopt

No discussion was held.


B.   Items from the Board

1.   Update on Pre-K Coalition Issues – John DeWitt

Dr. DeWitt gave a brief update on Pre-K Coalition Issues.  He noted that were approximately 1,000 children, eligible for pre-k services that were not being serviced due to a shortage of funds under the Pre-K Coalition.   He noted that the District was only “taking about half of what we had last year due to all the funding requirements and the need to charge $97.20.”  Upon inquiry by Dr. Jenkins, Mr. Wayne Odom, Director of Title I, explained that “if a family qualifies for a subsidy (from the Coalition), then for a second child, the co-payment that the parent is required to pay is reduced to half.”  He noted that $97.20 figure was “simply a school week (five days) times the daily reimbursement rate that the District would get for qualifying child.  The state will pay the District $19.44 a day, for child qualifying for the subsidy.  So when a parent is ineligible because their income exceeds the 150% of the federal poverty level or for some other reason, instead of just saying sorry so long, we say to them you’re not eligible for the subsidy and we aren’t going to be reimbursed by the Coalition for your child’s attendance therefore, if he remains it would cost you $97.20 a week.”  He noted that some parents are “distressed because they see it as a public school program even though it is by Statute not, and shocked and disillusioned that they would have to send their child to a public school.”


C.   Items from the Superintendent

1.   Administrative Guidelines for Acceptable Materials for Use in School Public Performances

No discussion was held.   


D.   Items from the General Counsel

No items were submitted




There being no further business, the Regular Workshop adjourned at 10:55 a.m.


Attest:                                                                       Approved:


Superintendent                          Chairman