The Flagler County School board would have to pay initial annual costs of over $150,000 to nearly $600,000 for any of three options to have armed staffers or guards on its nine campuses, in addition to the $1 million it is paying annually to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
Flagler County School Board
A new state law requires the Flagler County school district this year to pay just over $6 million to underwrite the private-school education of 685 students, including at parochial and out-of-county schools. The money also goes to families home-schooling their children.
While the Flagler County school district set an enrollment record for the first time in 13 years, it is still not the substantial growth that the district has been speaking of for the past year and a half, or the sort of growth that might have been expected to parallel the ongoing building boom in Palm Coast and the rest of the county.
The state gave the Sheriff’s Office only seven days to complete an application required to tap into training grants for arming civilians on campuses, and the Flagler County School Board still has a series of unanswered questions. Election re-alignments also add another level of uncertainty about whether there’s a real desire to go the route of armed civilians in schools.
This morning’s meeting of the so-called ILA (or inter-local agreement) Oversight Committee, gathering elected officials from the school district and other local governments, was distinctly more relaxed as a year-long clash over what some developers must pay, and when, to ensure school capacity for new students, was over.
Just 30 percent of Flagler County students know the purpose of a constitution, understand the separation of powers, the concept of the rule of law, the reasons colonists rebelled against Britain, the Supreme Court ruling that ratified Jim Crow or what FDR meant by a New Deal. Students in a U.S. government course are required to take the new exam that covers everything from landmark Supreme Court cases to influential documents in American history to basic principles about how government functions.
Historically lower taxes it has no control over, a state funding formula that cheats it of 5 cents of every dollar it sends the state, and a state-required $6 million transfer to pay for private education vouchers have again left the Flagler County school district scrambling to balance its budget. But it’s been an annual erosion of local dollars, entirely at the expense of public education.
On the heels of a year and a half of a dysfunctional school board riven by ideological battles, only 49 percent of Flagler County’s 10th graders last school year were reading English at grade level, the lowest proportion in over a decade and a decline from 53 percent in 2021. Flagler’s 10th grade reading scores have declined every year since 2018.
Flagler voters made damn sure that white nationalists, bigots and liars like Joe Mullins, Jill Woolbright and Janet McDonald had a short and embarrassing shelf life. If Flagler is solidly conservative, it remains sanely, moderately so for now, even for a one-party county with just three Democrats among 33 elected officials on six government boards.
When the Flagler County School Board switched 6th graders to middle school starting this month, it meant the same 6th graders who would have previously been eligible for bus rides to school no longer are, creating a dilemma–and a safety concern–for the parent of a 10-year-old child in Palm Coast’s B-Section.