The School Board of Escambia County, Florida, convened in Special Meeting at 9:00 a.m., in the Media Center, at Pine Forest High School, 2500 Longleaf Drive, Pensacola, Florida, with the following present:

            Chair:                           Ms. Linda Finkelstein                 Vice Chair:                   Mrs. Cary Stidham       

            Board Members:           Mrs. Carissa Bergosh

                                                Mr. Ronnie L. Clark

                                                Dr. John DeWitt

            School Board Attorney:              Mr. Francisco M. Negron, Jr. (was not present)

            Superintendent of Schools:         Mr. Jim Paul

            Local Legislative Delegation:      Representative Holly Benson

                                                            Representative Dave Murzin

                                                            Representative Greg Evers

                                                            Senator Charlie Clary (was not present)

                                                            Senator Durell Peaden, Jr. (was not present)

(NOTE: The following representatives of Mixon and Associates, Legislative Consultants, were also in attendance: Mr. Juhan Mixon, Ms. Terry Golden, and Mr. Dave Lycan.)

                    I.               WELCOME

Ms. Finkelstein called the Special Meeting to order at 9:10 a.m.  She welcomed everyone in attendance and explained that the purpose of this Special Meeting was to allow the Board an opportunity to present their “2004 Legislative Platform” to the Delegation.  On behalf of the Board and the Delegation, Ms. Finkelstein thanked Mrs. Barbara Patterson, principal of Pine Forest High School, for hosting this meeting and the NJROTC students for serving as parking attendants and guides.   

                 II.               INTRODUCTIONS

Those in attendance briefly introduced themselves. 

Mr. Bob Husbands, Executive Director of Escambia NEA UniServe, gave the invocation. 

               III.               BRUNCH

Students from the Culinary Arts Program served brunch to those in attendance.  On behalf of the Board and the Delegation, Ms. Finkelstein thanked those students for preparing and serving an “excellent” brunch.   

              IV.               EXPLANATION OF MEETING PACKETS

(Supplementary Minute Book, Exhibit “A”)

Mr. Mixon advised that the “meeting packet” included a copy of the 2004 Legislative Platform, that was approved by the Board at the October 21, 2003 Regular Meeting.  He stated that each Board Member would summarize a particular topic included in the Platform. 

(NOTE: The name in parenthesis indicates the Board Member that “summarized” that particular topic.) 

Corporate Scholarships/McKay Scholarships (Mrs. Stidham)

     School districts should be notified of the specific students who avail themselves of Corporate Scholarships and McKay Scholarships and the schools in which they will make use of their scholarships.

Corporate Scholarship students should be held to the same accountability standards (such as FCAT) as their public school peers and their progress should be monitored in the same manner as public school students.

Corporations should receive the same tax credit for contributions to school district foundations as they currently receive for contributions to non-profit scholarship-funding organizations. 

Should a McKay Scholarship student return to public school at any time during the school year, the award to the private school should be discontinued and the school district receive a prorated FEFP allocation for the student.

A+ Plan vs. No Child Left Behind (Ms. Finkelstein)

Reporting discrepancies between Florida’s A+ Plan and the federal No Child Left Behind Act result in anomalies through which schools that earn an “A” based on the state criteria can fail in light of the federal criteria (based on the state plan submitted by the Florida Department of Education and approved by the United State Department of Education).

A state steering committee should be formed, to include school district representatives, to provide recommendations to state and federal policymakers to delineate valid, reliable, and consistent accountability measures.

Pre-kindergarten and Universal Education for Four-Year-Olds (Dr. DeWitt)

As the Legislature creates the statutory framework for the delivery of pre-kindergarten instruction, it must recognize school districts as the focal point of these efforts. 

Implementing legislation for pre-kindergarten should include performance-based institutional eligibility requirements that contain clear accountability measures. 

The Legislature must fund pre-kindergarten programs based on a funding model like the FEFP, including the provisions of funds for the transportation of these students.

Regardless of the entity that provides these educational services, school districts should be designated as the fiscal agent for services delivered within the county. 

Public School Funding (Mr. Clark)

For a variety of reasons, school district funding is unequal from county to county, based on differences in cost of living and revenues generated from local millage. 

The Legislature should review such issues as the District Cost Differential and dollars generated per mill to ensure that districts are funded adequately and equitably. 

Transportation (Mrs. Bergosh)

Student transportation is currently funded at less than 75% of the actual cost of providing eligible students this service.

Discrepancies between required transportation costs and available funds are derived from other funding streams, such as those for educational programs.

The Legislature should fund a higher portion of the legitimate costs of student transportation.   

Although not included in the 2004 Legislative Platform, Mrs. Laura Shaud, Director of Budgeting, and Mrs. Barbara Linker, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Services, presented the following requests to the Delegation: 

Remove the restrictions on the proceeds from the 2 mill capital outlay levy to allow a reasonable percentage to be used for District level capital outlay projects and purchases.  Add language to the relevant statute that allows a portion of the proceeds to be used for the purchase of property and casualty insurance. 

Increase the $50 per unweighted FTE guarantee/restriction on the .25 discretionary millage to reflect the growth in tax rolls over the past nine years and legislate a formula for increasing this guarantee/restriction each year.   

                 V.               QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION

Members of the Delegation expressed appreciation for what they referred to as “good information.”  

              VI.               ADJOURNMENT

Ms. Finkelstein thanked everyone for attending.  There being no further business, the Regular Workshop adjourned at 10:40 a.m.

Attest:                                                              Approved:

________________________________                    ________________________________

                        Superintendent                                                  Chair