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Flagler Middle & High School Principals Plead With Voters: Give Us Back Those 45 Minutes

| June 3, 2013

What would Dali vote?

What would Dali vote?

This is the latest in a series of pieces on the June 7 tax referendum for Flagler County schools. All voters, regardless of party affiliation, may cast a ballot. For other pieces in the series and full explanations of the proposal and its genesis, see the grey box below.

By Steve Hinson, Paul Peacock, Chris Pryor and Lynette Shott

On June 7th, Flagler County residents will decide whether or not to approve a .5 mill referendum to support district schools. If approved, the 45 minutes that were eliminated at the middle and high schools in 2010 will be reinstated.


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To save $2,000,000 two years ago, the district shortened the middle and high school student day by 45 minutes in order to cut 42 teaching positions. This was accomplished by moving the teacher planning period outside the student day, shortening each class period at the high schools, and eliminating a class at the middle schools.

This helped meet the financial needs of the school district while still allowing students to meet the state minimum class time requirement, but by taking this step we lost 45 minutes of instructional time each day.

Losing 45 minutes out of every school day does not sound like a lot of time, but a huge chunk of instructional time has been lost for middle and high school students.

For the high schools, the 45-minute loss was spread out over the day, so each class was shortened. This equates to 27 fewer hours in each class over the course of a year. That is the equivalent of a month of lost instructional time in each course, which has decreased the amount of time teachers have to cover course content. This is worrisome for all teachers, but especially for those teaching Algebra, Biology, Geometry, and U. S. History, all of which require that students take a state end-of-course assessment; and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate teachers, whose students take national and international exams. The shortened day gives them considerably less time to prepare their students for these assessments.

Teachers feel that the shortened class period does not give students adequate time to grasp a concept, receive individualized teacher attention, or even take an exam. Eliminating what amounts to a month of instructional time has forced teachers to cover just the surface of concepts. Not having a planning period while students are at school eliminates the possibility of teachers offering students extra help during the day.

For the middle schools, the 45-minute cut means students have lost an elective class and extra teacher support during their day. Teachers are no longer able to give additional help to students during their planning period, which is now after students leave in the afternoon. Adding the 45 minutes back into the student day will help support middle school students by allowing for intensive math and reading to be added to their schedules. Advanced students will be able to take enrichment or accelerated classes.

We are striving to be a national premier learning organization, and making our student day longer will help us achieve that goal.

Steve Hinson is the principal at Buddy Taylor Middle School, Paul Peacock at Indian Trails Middle School, Chris Pryor at Matanzas High School, and Lynette Shott at Flagler Palm Coast High School.

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40 Responses for “Flagler Middle & High School Principals Plead With Voters: Give Us Back Those 45 Minutes”

  1. Refund says:

    Give us back the near 5 million dollars that is paid to the 61 school board administrators. An investigation needs to be conducted on this top heavy administration. Money should be spent educating our children not filling the pockets of the greedy! Shame on school board members for being asleep at the wheel.

  2. Ogreagain says:

    for the last time, we’re voting no.

  3. Brad W says:

    The key here is explaining the truth behind why it costs $2 million for those 45 minutes, but educators do not want to speak about that. Thankfully a teacher presenting for the school board at the Democratic Club explained why we could have the 45 minutes back without the $2 million cost . . . but won’t.

    Here’s how the teacher basically explained a teacher’s schedule currently:

    1. 39 hours per week broken down to 36.5 actual work hours (39 – 2.5 of lunch time)
    2. 5 hours each day of “student instruction time” for a total of 25 hours per week. The teacher contract caps “student contact time” at 25 hours per teacher.
    3. 11.5 hours of planning time (and I guess bathroom time according to Colleen Conklin)

    Here’s how it could look tomorrow without the $2 million price tag to hire an additional 40 teachers

    1. 40 hour work week without paid lunches meaning 8.5 hour scheduled days.
    2. 6 hours of “student instruction time” for a total of 30 hours per week
    3. 10 hours of planning time and bathroom breaks

    Why that won’t happen according to the FULL-TIME SALARIED teacher:

    1. She would n’t get paid more for the “additional” period. Aren’t we paying her for working full-time already?

    2. That additional period and responsibility could increase the chances of her review being poor. Does that sound like it’s really about the kids?

    I think it’s time to stop pointing the finger at the tax payers who are already paying quite a bit, and realizing their are 3 fingers pointing back at the schools. Give the students back the 45 minutes and stop placing the burden solely on us.

    • Out of Curiosity says:

      So we’re back to blaming it on the teachers?

      • Brad W says:

        No, I am not blaming teachers at all. My point is that there is a reasonable solution to restoring the 45 minutes without based upon the information provided by teachers without it costing $2 million and raising taxes unnecessarily.

        • Out of Curiosity says:

          But you are saying that solution will not occur because teachers (or the teacher that spoke at this function) won’t get paid more and are afraid of bad evaluations?

    • A.S.F. says:

      That teacher’s “breakdown” of hours that you speak of is ridiculous! Teachers work many hours off the clock–and even though it is off the clock, everyone expects it of them and ignores the fact that it is off the clock. You are insulting the very people who have made it their life’s mission to prepare young people to become responsible and productive adults. It is a serious calling and deserves our respect and support. I think most responsible tax=payers would agree.

    • IMO says:

      BradW…your breakdown was not in all reality complete and has now been answered.

      “To save $2,000,000 two years ago, the district shortened the middle and high school student day by 45 minutes in order to cut 42 teaching positions. This was accomplished by moving the teacher planning period outside the student day, shortening each class period at the high schools, and eliminating a class at the middle schools.

      This helped meet the financial needs of the school district while still allowing students to meet the state minimum class time requirement, but by taking this step we lost 45 minutes of instructional time each day. ”

  4. really? says:

    OK I’m all for lengthening the school day if it promotes greater learning but why hire 42 additional teachers? Ratify the teacher contract (contact hours per student) and pay the existing teachers more money. It has to be cheaper that way.

  5. Hmmmm says:

    So we take away 45 min in the name of saving money only to give administrators a raise in Dec 2012? Next we fund more teachers on assignment (teachers without students doing little jobs that the administration should be doing).??????
    How many raises and new positions at the GSB since the loss of 45 min you cry about?

  6. Gia says:

    NO..NO MORE TAXES

  7. kmedley says:

    Instead of pleading with the voters, the principals should have been providing the Superintendent and the School Board with viable budget cutting options so we as a district would not find ourselves in this situation. The principals and teachers are on the front lines and know where the waste may be found, such as two schools that could and should be closed. The “It Takes A Village” mentality also applies to accountability and these folks have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers, too.

    What I find amazing is the plea for safety and the “Sandy Hook was the game changer” argument has fallen to the wayside and the pleas have now turned most vociferously toward the restoration of the 45 minutes. This is not surprising. This is what the referendum has been about from its inception. It was never about keeping the kids safer. Colleen Conklin even admitted that Sandy Hook had every safety measure in place and nothing would have stopped Lanza. That was the heartstring used to manipulate voters. It has always been about making things right with the teachers’ union.

    It is time to demand accountability. A NO Vote will force the district’s hand so hard choices that should have been made years ago will now be addressed. Our students are more than capable of meeting these challenges. I do however question whether the School Board has the same ability.

    Vote NO!

  8. ROCCO says:

    I am a teacher. I dont have a paid lunch break. So stop saying I do. Some teachers get a lunch break, not all. I choose to keep with my students. If you go above and beyond, so will your students.

    BTW cutting funds that would help us on the front line, because you are upset with those at the top, doesn’t help us who are actually teaching students.

    • Barbara says:

      I have NEVER had a paid lunch break or paid vacation in my 45 years of work. STOP complaining and do your job. If you don’t like it…LEAVE. If the GREEDY ones at the top would cut their salaries in half, many students could get a GOOD EDUCATION and some DESERVING teachers could get a raise. Its that simple. GREED KILLS !!!!

  9. Think About it says:

    Stop whining….Just vote NO….

  10. songbird says:

    Our contact hours with students (and their parents, counselors, other teachers) goes beyond 25 in one week. Many of my students eat lunch in my room with me to work on projects or just tell me about what’s going on in their lives. Plus, we have an hour a week to plan. How about to grade? That gets done outside of that planning time. Most teachers already work more than 40 hours a week, it’s just not all done in the school building.

    • kmedley says:

      Songbird – Many of us understand and appreciate what you are saying; however, this was your career choice and surely you knew the profession is mostly viewed as a “thankless” position. Teachers have been planning and grading outside of the building for centuries and I do not see that changing anytime soon. It is admirable you are willing to listen to the many happenings in the lives of your students; but, that is not why you were hired. Neither you, nor any other teacher were ever meant to replace those duties that should be the responsibilities of the parents. I know there are parents who do not understand that parent is both a noun and a verb. It is the verb part many forget to implement. It does not fall to the taxpayers to compensate you for the work you choose to do outside of the building and off the clock. Like many, I agree with a full 40 hour week and I believe that would alleviate much of the personal time that is required.

      The School Board needs to return to the drawing board and they should invite the teachers and principals to help them identify more efficient ways to appropriate funds BEFORE asking taxpayers for more.

      • Gram says:

        Imagine what would result from public education if the positions weren’t considered a derelict’s or a martyr’s foregone conclusions for career choices. It’s disgusting and counter-productive to throw comments like “this was your career choice” into a conversation about improving the very thing you’re reducing to a job for thankless woebegones who should sit back and accept this kind of disrespect.

    • Brad W says:

      Songbird,

      I am sure you work more than 40 hours and do work outside of the building. Guess what? Every salaried professional does. We get it. We all do it. Because that’s what it takes at times to get the job done.

      The 25 hours of student contact time is instruction time in the classroom as explained by 2 board members, posted by Andy Dance, and communicated by a teacher giving a presentation to tax payers at the Democratic Club. It does not include you speaking with other people associated with the student because we are talking about scheduling. Likewise, Colleen Conklin and this teacher both communicated that the teacher work week is an agreed to 36.5 hours. I am sure that reasonable and good teachers work what needs to be worked to get the job done. But this particular teacher was communicating that the 36.5 hours is what is agreed to and any more from her is not reasonable because she would “get overtime” like other jobs. That teacher was up there representing all teachers and to provide the information for us to make an informed decision but again you are here saying that’s not the reality.

      Here is the reality, we can have the 45 minutes without it costing $2 million to hire over 40 teachers to restore it. We can continue to have great schools without the referendum by eliminating the massive waste going on. It’s not about just being “angry at the people at the top”. It’s about making smart decisions that benefit both the schools and the community at large. The path the schools ar eon now and to be constantly raising taxes to accommodate poor management and waste will stall the real estate recovery and strangle every aspect of the community including the schools in a short period of time. Enough is enough.

  11. Anon1 says:

    Mr Pryor once again.

    http://flaglerlive.com/25478/flagler-school-administrators/

    Try an across the board 2% pay cut for all administrators, that includes principals and the deputy superintendent. It appears a bit strange that there was money in the budget to create a deputy position even in the face of a budget crisis.

    No, even H**** No

  12. TyCobbHimself says:

    I already voted no, haha, but you can keep writing these pathetic articles begging me to vote yes.

    Vote No!!!

  13. Tired says:

    VOTE YES!!! I feel that my children’s education is worth it! Every cent! As is YOURS! How could you not want to invest in your children’s education? Unless of course, yours is one of the children that have all the materialistic things they could possibly want but you’re off at the bar with your friends or vacationing without them. Step up to the plate and be a real parent, that is seriously what’s lacking in our society today!

    • Patty says:

      By VOTING NO, you will be increasing your child’s chance at a BETTER education. Do you even understand where all the money goes for education or are you one of those “what ever” mom’s. Junior will be just fine as long as their are knowledgeable parents who don’t “throw” their money at the education administration.

  14. Think About it says:

    @ Tired;

    It’s the parents that need to take comtrol of their children AND help them with their education, not the system. If the parents did a “good” job at home, this entire discussion would not even be happening, period.

    I also voted and voted NO

  15. songbird says:

    Teachers are salaried professionals. I guess there will always be people who think they should just work and be paid by the hour. Lord knows we seem to be headed in that direction. And yes, this is my career choice and I’ll do it no matter what happens. But any of you could have made this career choice as well. Until you stand in my shoes, don’t judge.

  16. Ridiculous says:

    It is absurd that people are angry with others who worked hard to get degrees and advanced degrees to help educate the children of a community. Good salaries are incentives for people entering a profession. If you lower the pay of teachers and administrators, imagine who will be educating your children. The higher you pay these individuals, the more competitive these jobs will be. Competition will bring better quality candidates, and thus a better quality education. With a better education will come increased opportunity and a better educated community that values an individuals commitment to go into this thankless profession. Its shameful to see the disgruntled hatred towards people just because they work for the educational system. If you desire the same pay and time off, feel free to go take out student loans, dedicate years of your life to helping others, and know that people will despise you for your decision.

    • Brad W says:

      Ridiculous,

      These are tax paid positions. There is only so much money to go around. The cold hard truth is that it would be nice to pay high level salaries in our schools but that has to be paid for somehow, and the onyl way to do that is taxes. I, for one, already pay over $1,000 just to the schools and may home’s taxable value is not much more than the example they used to arrive at the $25 scenario (which that home pays about $800/year). Should I pay $5,000? How about $10,000? Then we can become the northeast and what do you think the population in the long-term would begin to look like here? It would shrink to nothing in a short time period and our schools would get nothing. You would cripple and decimate the area.

      The problem at the administrator level is similar to what is crippling private corporations . . . dumping the biggest part of your pot at the top and protecting that regardless of what the negative impact to the whole is. Especially while we are with-holding teacher raises and forcing them to buy supplies out of their pocket. And all the while . . . wasting huge sums of money and then claiming they don’t have enough for this and that. Enough is enough.

      • IMO says:

        Now Brad who is sounding ridiculous. Where are you getting figures such as $5,000 a year or $10,000 a year? What would you know about northeast state school taxes unless you have once lived there.

        BradW I so believe you have exposed yourself. You are obviously a person who came to Florida out of the Northeast.

        Now you are suggesting by nothing more than innuendo that a small tax increase to an already cut to the bone school budget (37 million over the last 5 years) is somehow going to set the community on the slippery slope toward $10,000 a year school taxes. You jump to the illogical conclusion that people will flee the community over a tiny tax increase that will lock school taxes in place for the next 4 years?

        Such a silly man. You cannot see the gift you are being offered here. A cap on school taxes for the next 4 years. Instead you want a “No” vote that will result in forcing the school onto an austerity budget which will result in the closing of schools. Well You know Brad when a school district closes down a school building in this day and age the vacuum created will be filled by someone. That will be the Charter School business people. They will take those buildings over in a second diverting even more money out of the public school system. Now that is a very real “Slippery Slope” BradW. Do you think a community can close a school building and still not have to pay to maintain it while it sits empty? You would ,lose the entire building in less than two years in a tropical state like Florida. It will end up getting stripped by vandals. So no BradW if people like you force the closure of school buildings the only logical thing to do is let the Charter School business people (educators that are definitely not non profit) take them over. Otherwise you end up with a huge eyesore of a dilapidated building.

        BradW you are clueless as to what is occurring in the educational world.

        You are one trick pony. “I don’t want “MY” taxes raised” is the only message you have been stating post after post. You don’t have a clue as to how your schools are run. You don’t have a clue as to the ramifications of a No vote. But it won’t be your problem then will it Brad. You will get to keep your precious $1.99 or $2.99

        By the way BradW people requesting information as to relocating to Palm Coast on the real estate web sites are already being advised to “Beware the School District Budget Problems” before deciding to move here. But by all means “Keep It Up BradW.” I guarantee you this. We will lose more in home values than we ever would have paid in school taxes if you get your way.

  17. Seminole Pride says:

    With Obesity one of the major issues with today’s kids, use the 45 minutes for health and physical training.

  18. Pete says:

    The Observer editorial says to vote NO! Heard radio editorial today to vote no. I already voted No!

  19. joe says:

    vote noooooooooooooooooooooooo

  20. Someone says:

    Oh wow, I am so glad that other people can see what the schoolboard is actually doing. Scammers!

  21. DP says:

    After just reading about the board reversing their stance on uniforms, I’m glad I voted “NO” on the tax increase. It’s time to wake up people and see that who was elected into office really has no idea what they’re doing. You know I’ve done without a lot over the last 7 years, and so can the school system. 45 min really, cut some top heavy administrators, or better yet if you can’t teach then I say quit and let someone else who can, it’s time to learn to live and teach within your allotted time periods.

  22. Tonynobaloney says:

    Hate to tell and disappoint you Ridiculous but there are teachers and support staff in the Flagler County School system that are fed up with teaching and the Flagler County School System.

  23. Tired says:

    Patty, just because my opinion is different than yours is no reason for you to insult my parenting. You are absolutely out of line, I’ve never been a “whatever” parent and never will be! It appears from your mindset that whatever school system you graduated from failed you!

  24. much doubt much wisdon, little doubt little wisdom says:

    Highly paid school employees + highly effective teachers and administrators should equal highly educated students. But this has never been the case with this school district, even before the 45 minutes were cut from the school day. This district keeps producing mediocre results over and over, except when it cheats!

    This is the problem with education in America. America spends the second highest amount on education yet gets very poor results. Seems like Flagler is mirroring that image in that its school employees are highly paid but its academic results are very poor.

  25. Joe A says:

    Vote Yes, such a small investment for the Kids education, 3 bucks a month for such an important cause, yes,yes,yes. These kids deserve better!

  26. tampanative says:

    I hope it passes. Myself, my wife, my parents, and my in-laws are all voting yes. A vote for our future is a vote for your future. Just think about it a little bit, would you have been successful without your education? Did your parents afford every expense possible to provide for your education? Salaries in Flagler County are no different than salaries in other counties in Florida of comparable size. Instead of sticking it to the children stick it to the current House and Senate of the State Legislature and elect new people. People who do not put into effect unfunded mandates that the school districts must find money to afford to accomplish. While allowing private companies to profiteer off our tax dollars through charter schools, giving them leniency on accepting students with disabilities, which they do not have to do if they do not have teachers certified to teach them.

  27. IMO says:

    It is time to decide. Gather your facts and then go vote. Here are the facts.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=C1WMMkTCYqk

  28. Mike says:

    @ tampanative’ There is no future here for our children, we rent them our education system (as poor as it is) they go off to college and then look for a job. This is never going tyo be a generational town were people grow up and then stay because they love it. For our children there is no future here, no real jobs, no reason to stay; you either need to commute to Jax or Orlando for a decent paying high tech job. The county and city leaders at]re killing our area with out attracting industry, the tax burden will fall soley on the homeowners here and it will bankrupt the area. The next 10 years will more than likely show a change in demographics to a more elderly population due to the lack of high end or even decent paying jobs. The school district is the counties largest employer, as enrolment continues to dwindle so will the largest job provider, read the writing on the wall.

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