- 5:14 pm Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 by Jac Wilder VerSteeg
A honeymoon and a marriage loom large in Palm Beach County’s superintendent search.
The Palm Beach County School Board took its first tentative steps toward hiring a new superintendent on Wednesday, getting a briefing on procedure from Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association.
But the first thing the board figured out, it seems, is that members continue to be enamored of Bill Malone, the current “interim” superintendent whose surprise hiring came within minutes of the board’s decision last month to fire Art Johnson.
Board member Chuck Shaw commented about the feeling of “calm” that descended on the district after [More]
- 4:25 pm Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 by Jac Wilder VerSteeg
School Board Chairman Frank Barbieri publicly accepted responsibility if the decision to fire Superintendent Art Johnson backfires. He also said that he doesn’t expect Interim Superintendent Bill Malone to make many changes in the six months he’ll be running the district.
Speaking to Mr. Malone at the Feb. 16 meeting, just before the board hired Mr. Malone to be interim superintendent, Mr. Barbieri said:
“The thought runs through my mind over and over again that if things don’t work out well, they’re going to forget who was sitting on this board, but they’re going to remember that Barbieri was chairman. And, [More]
- 3:31 pm Thursday, February 17th, 2011 by Jac Wilder VerSteeg
The Palm Beach County School Board on Wednesday night voted to hire former Chief Operating Officer Bill Malone to be interim superintendent for six months. He replaces Art Johnson, whose failure to give raises to teachers badly eroded their support for him.
Dr. Johnson and the school board have maintained there is no money for raises. Right after the board voted to offer the interim position to Mr. Malone, I asked him about teacher raises. He said, “It’s very hard to figure out how that can work.” He didn’t rule out raises. “I think everything is on the table.” But, “The [More]
- 5:51 pm Monday, February 7th, 2011 by Jac Wilder VerSteeg
Here’s a quick reading from Vern Pickup-Crawford, an education lobbyist, on what Gov. Scott’s proposed budget could mean for Palm Beach County schools. Keep in mind that I talked to Mr. Pickup-Crawford even as he was seeing Gov. Scott’s budget plan for the first time. This is a first-blush analysis.
The district’s budget this year is about $1.248 billion.
Gov. Scott’s budget for Palm Beach County schools for next year is $1.117 billion.
So that’s an initial cut of roughly $131 million.
However, the governor’s budget does mitigate the cut somewhat. Here’s how:
Right now, the district pays the total bill for employee pensions. [More]
- 3:52 pm Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 by Jac Wilder VerSteeg
Missing e-mails sent to and from former Chief Academic Officer Jeffrey Hernandez are becoming an important part of the potential case against Palm Beach County schools Superintendent Art Johnson.
But there’s no guarantee an independent auditing company conducting a probe of Mr. Hernandez’s moonlighting arrangement will include the deleted e-mails in its investigation.
The school board should notify the company, RSM McGladrey, that it wants to know what happened to the e-mails.
Nat Harrington, the school district’s spokesman, said in an e-mail to me that he didn’t know if RSM McGladrey would check into the e-mails.
Peter Kimball, one of the parents whose efforts [More]
- 3:31 pm Friday, January 21st, 2011 by Jac Wilder VerSteeg
Palm Beach County School Board members Jennifer Prior Brown and Karen Brill had the best position at Wednesday night’s meeting on how Superintendent Art Johnson should replace Ann Killets, who retired as chief learning officer.
They both said he should fill the job, but do it by adjusting current staff. Ms. Brown said the position should be filled in a “cost-neutral” fashion.
Dr. Johnson had said he would not fill the job, saving the $180,000 salary. He said he’d carry out the duties himself.
But six of the seven school board members said they didn’t think he could do that. They didn’t want, [More]
- 1:46 pm Friday, January 14th, 2011 by Jac Wilder VerSteeg
Gov. Scott and his top education adviser, Michelle Rhee, say merit pay for teachers is a top priority. The Legislature, which last year passed SB 6, only to have Gov. Crist veto it, obviously agrees. Don’t expect either the governor or Legislature to ask for much teacher input as they concoct a grandiose scheme to impose merit pay.
Meanwhile, there are smaller pilot projects that show how merit pay can be established collaboratively. One example in on the Palm Beach County School Board’s agenda next week.
It’s an agreement between the district and the Classroom Teachers Association that aims to improve teaching [More]
- 12:37 pm Friday, December 3rd, 2010 by Jac Wilder VerSteeg
The high school math FCAT is being replaced by end-of-course tests.
This year’s 10th-graders still have to take the math FCAT. But this year’s 9th-graders do not.
That doesn’t mean, however, that high stakes math tests for high school students are going away.
In fact, high school students soon will have to take more high stakes math tests to graduate. Specifically, they will have to take and pass an Algebra 1 end-of-course exam and, in future years, a Geometry end-of-course exam.
Serious transition to the Algebra 1 end-of-course exam starts this school year with a test to be given in May 2011.
I met recently with school officials who explained the changes. They emphasized that details could change.
Those details are somewhat complicated. There are different requirements for different groups of students as the end-of-course exams are phased in.
The school district has provided this Algebra 1 test matrix PDF that provides a quick guide to which students have to take the end-of-course Algebra 1 exam, how much the test counts toward their course grade, and whether they have to pass the end-of-course test in order to graduate from high school.
I strongly suggest downloading that PDF.
Here are the highlights:
Students in the 10th grade and above this year don’t have to worry about the Algebra 1 end-of-course exam. They’ll still need to pass the 10th-grade FCAT to graduates. FCAT retakes will continue to be available for students needing them, even after the FCAT is phased out for newer students.
Students in the 9th grade taking Algebra 1 this year will have to take an end-of-course exam in May. The test will be given on computers. The test, which will be standardized statewide, will count for 30 percent of the student’s final algebra grade.
That 30-percent rule only applies to this year’s 9th-graders. It does not apply to 8th-graders taking Algebra 1 this year or to any students taking Algebra 1 in subsequent years.