Colleen Conklin is one of eight candidates in three races for Flagler County School Board in the Aug. 18 primary election. Conklin, a five-term incumbent, is running in District 3 against Paul Mucciolo and Carol (Sister Elizabeth) Bacha.
The three school board elections–for District 1, 3 and 5–are non-partisan races: all registered voters in Flagler County are eligible to cast a ballot in the two races–whether registered Democratic, Republican, Independent or from a minor party, and regardless of geography. You may cast a vote in all three races regardless of the district, the town or the subdivision you live in.
The District 1 race is in effect a special election necessitated by the decision of Andy Dance to resign his school board seat in November, as he’s in a race for a County Commission seat. The winner will serve just two years, and will have to run again in 2022 to retain the seat.
The election on Aug. 18 will decide the winner in District 1 between Vincent Lyon and Jill Woolbright and in District 5, between incumbent Maria Barbosa and Cheryl Massaro, because both races have just two candidates each. District 3 is a three-way race. The race in this case would be decided only if a candidate wins better than 50 percent of the vote. Short of that, the top two vote-getters will go on to a run-off, to be decided in the general election on Nov. 6.
FlaglerLive submitted identical questions to the school board candidates, who replied in writing, with the understanding that some follow-up questions may be asked, and that all exchanges would be on the record. Questions appear in bold, follow-up questions, when necessary, appear in bold and italics, and may be awaiting answers. When a candidate fails to answer a question, that’s noted in red. The questions and follow-ups attempt to elicit precise answers, but the candidates don’t always comply.
School board members serve four-year terms and are paid $33,950 a year.
The Questions in Summary: Quick Links
- Purpose and vision
- District’s Covid response
- Schools’ reopening
- Successes and failures
- Half-penny surtax
- School deputies
- LGBTQ rights
- Social media
- Background check
Place and Date of Birth: Suffern, N.Y., August 6, 1968.
Current job: Flagler County School Board Member, Executive Director/Assistant Professor at Gaetz Aerospace Institute, a Dual Enrollment/STEM Outreach Program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Net worth: $428,527.
Political affiliation (keeping in mind that school board races are non-partisan): Democrat
Websites and Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/flaglerschoolnews.conklin/ and https://colleenconklinforschoolboard.com/
See Colleen Conklin’s previous Live Interviews: 2012 and 2016.
1. What is your vision for public education in Flagler County and how are you uniquely qualified to help enact it within the limitations of the job? If you’re an incumbent, how have you enacted it in your previous years? If you’re a challenger, what have you done to prepare?
We know public education is in the midst of transformational change. I have the experience and passion for keeping students front and center during these challenging times. My platform has never changed. While managing growth, navigating legislative changes, and dealing with budget cuts is essential, we must never lose sight of the academic, social, emotional, and physical growth of our children. We need to continue to look at programs, policies, and curricula that address the whole child.
I believe in the purpose of public education and the need to provide opportunities for all children. Public education is and should be the great equalizer, the thread that weaves us all together as a great nation. I have a keen understanding of what it takes to be in the classroom. I have spent time in the trenches teaching at the elementary and college level. I have held executive leadership positions in the business and non-profit world, providing financial oversight to over $20 million and lead programs impacting over 35,000 secondary students nationwide and hundreds of educators to date. This combination has provided me with a wide range of perspectives and substantial leadership opportunities. I am humble enough to admit when wrong and strong enough to stand up against the tide when I feel our students, teachers, and families are under attack. I take my role as a School Board member seriously and work hard to provide a passionate voice for those who struggle to speak for themselves or those who are often ignored.
To be an effective school board, I recognize the value of working together, collaborating, sharing, and respecting each other’s talents and opinions. I believe we have a clear vision for Flagler County Schools and desire to be the best of the best. As an active part of the Flagler County community, I’ve had the pleasure of working with numerous entities and organizations dedicated to providing the best opportunities for our students. I believe in being fiscally transparent and accountable to the citizens of Flagler County and will continue to strive to make myself available at all times. More than anything else, I will continue to be a passionate advocate for all of our students!
This vision is evident in the work we have done to redesign our mental health programs; increase our graduation rates through our Graduate 100 and Early Warning Sign Programs as well as an increase in acceleration opportunities for all students.
Two clauses in your opening paragraph made us do a double-take: “We know public education is in the midst of transformational change.” And: “My platform has never changed.” If there’s transformational change, how could your platform not reflect the fact? Should it not be changing in order to apply the principles you speak of? In this answer you speak in inspiring but general terms about your approach. If you were running for the first time we’d have left it at that. But as the longest-serving countywide public elected official in Flagler, one criticism has been that you’ve been in office “too long” (that’s how one of your opponents, Paul Mucciolo, put it). So what one or two examples of transformational change can you give us that you’ve witnessed, then addressed during your tenure, showing that you’re not in “a rut” (Mucciolo again)–that you’re adaptive and as current as the times demand?
I can see how one might consider that these two ideals clash. However, I would double down on both statements. Yes, public education is undergoing significant changes right now. Still, the one variable that must remain consistent, no matter how turbulent or challenging those changes become, our focus must remain on our children. That has always been my platform. Regardless of who the school board member is for District 3, the focus must be on what policies, programs, and curricula support the whole child. We must never lose sight of the academic, social, emotional, and physical growth of our children. For the last 20 years, I have advocated for our children, staff, and families with that in mind.
In regards to what transformational change has occurred during my tenure, I would point to several items. When I first ran for the school board, our curriculum was exceptionally outdated. Our technology was non-existent, the digital divide was vast, our teacher salaries were the last in the state; the achievement gap and graduation rates for all students were embarrassingly low, and our school buildings were outdated and in disrepair. Of course, some of these items were addressed merely over time. However, if you go back and review my track record, I have pushed continuously for and challenged administrative teams over the years to address many of these issues. The most recent that comes to mind is the dramatic changes to our mental health programs, graduate 100, Flaglership programs, and the increases in industry certifications. I may not always be on the winning side of a vote. However, I am proud to have been a minority voice on the most pressing issues facing our students. That fire in the belly burns as bright today for our students, teachers, staff, and families as it did 20 years ago!
Jill Woolbright, District 1
Carol Bacha (Mother Elizabeth)
Colleen Conklin, District 3
Paul Mucciolo, District 3
Maria Barbosa, District 5
Dave Sullivan, District 3
Donald O'Brien, District 5
Bob Jones, District 5
Sims Jones (Dist. 1)
Ed Danko (Dist. 1)
Nick Klufas (Dist. 3)
Cornelia Manfre (Dist. 3)
Zack Shapiro (Dist. 3)
See The Observer's Speedy Candidate Interviews
2. Tell us who you are as a person—what human qualities and shortcomings you’ll bring to the board, what your temperament is like: if you’re an incumbent, what do you consider may have been a mistake or a misjudgment on your part in your official capacity—something you’d do over, differently–in the past four years? If you’re a challenger, apply the question to your work or civic involvement.
I am the daughter of Irish immigrants. I grew up bouncing between New York and Florida and even spent time in the civil unrest of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the ’70s. An advocate was born in those early days as I saw first hand how my Catholic family members were denied basic opportunities for decent housing, education, and jobs, not to mention the human rights atrocities witnessed.
I was not the most successful student in school. I had a constant curiosity and desire to learn but challenged with an undiagnosed learning disability. Between this and always moving back and forth, it was difficult to keep up. If it were not for the dedication of a few inspiring teachers who went above and beyond to help me see and recognize my potential, I’m sure I would never have continued my education. I thrived in college, fully engaged on campus, founding a campus chapter of Amnesty International, I was active in theater, Covenant House of NYC/homelessness advocacy, and was named one of the top 10 Women on the Move.
Upon graduation, I was selected among 200 plus applicants to participate in the Lyndon B. Johnson Congressional Internship program and headed off to DC. It was the summer after the Tiananmen Square uprising in China, and DC was a buzz. Congressmen Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) appointed me to the following committees: Education, Council on Human Rights, and International Affairs. After graduation, I was offered a job as a Congressional Aid in DC and as a 1st-grade teacher in the South Bronx on the very same day. I recalled the numerous people making policy decisions in DC who had never had “real life” experience but were creating policies and laws for us to follow. I remember thinking to myself, “I have to teach. I have to know what’s working and what’s wrong if I ever want to make a difference,” and off to the South Bronx, I went. DC would have to wait for another day.
During my time in Washington Heights and the South Bronx, my advocacy continued. I fell madly in love with my students and families and vowed to fight on their behalf, demanding equal opportunities for my students. I dared to speak out against the union and publicly demanded that they fight on behalf of my kids. I worked two jobs in addition to teaching and obtained a Master’s Degree in Educational and Administration Supervision from City College in Harlem. Sidetracked by life, I moved back home to Florida to be close to my aging parents (like, right-next-door close). My in-laws moved in on the other side eight years later. We are a living example of the sandwich generation! Yearning for the classroom, I went back to teach in my old elementary school, and poverty took on a new face. I was disappointed by conditions, curriculum, opportunities, and salaries and decided to run for school board just after having my second son. I have been honored to serve ever since. Diagnosed as an adult with two significant learning disabilities, I was determined to obtain my doctoral degree. After eight years of hard work, I finally finished and earned an Education Doctorate in Organizational Leadership and Brain-based Learning. I mentioned my experience and background in a previous question. I have not hidden my passion for exceptional students, accessible mental health services, increasing graduation rates, connecting to the workforce industry, and ensuring safe school environments.
There have been a few regrets. Mostly personal in nature. I would have advocated for my own children without concerns of being viewed as taking advantage of my position. I would not have applied for the Superintendent position a few months ago, and would have worked harder to keep my ego in check. I applied because I care deeply about the students, teachers and staff in our district and felt we had a team that could continue to build upon the good work Superintendent Jim Tager had begun. As a board member, you can see things that are beyond your reach and control because they reside on the operations side of the house. You can point these issues out; request that they be addressed; shine a light on them but you are limited in what you can do. After reviewing the first batch of resumes and having several community members approach me, I gave it serious consideration. I apologize for putting my colleagues in the situation they found themselves in, and I hate that there are people that think less of me only because I was attempting to do something to help address issues impacting our students and district. With all that said, I fully understand and respect my role as a Board member. I have an excellent relationship with Superintendent Cathy Mittlestadt and recognize the room I have for professional growth.
3. Evaluate the way the district handled the Covid pandemic so far: while the order to close in-person instruction was handed down from the Department of Education, remote instruction methods were up to the districts. Did Flagler schools pass that test? Where was the execution best, where did it fail?
Districts across the country struggled with how best to respond to Covid-19. Flagler County was exceptionally blessed to already have a tremendous amount of technology in place to make the initial transition back in March. Our teams worked exceptionally hard to help students, teachers, and families adjust to an entire virtual world. We distributed over 2,200 devices and 400 hotspots. We provided free wi-fi hotspots to 200 socio-economically disadvantaged students. We served well over 40,000 meals through the end of the year and into the summer. Our teachers, staff, and administrators were able to connect to 100 percent of our students. Almost 400 teachers participated in 59 virtual professional development opportunities. We provided constant updates to our stakeholders. Regarding our “Return to School Plan,” we continue to struggle to keep up with the ever-changing requirements from the Department of Education, the Commissioner, and Governor and, of course, the local Covid-19 data. Just when it seems we have a plan in place, a new variable forces us to change.
4. How comfortable are you with a full resumption of school in the fall? As a policy maker, you’ll have to approve the district’s reopening plan. What will be your guiding principles in making that decision? What programs or activities are you willing to forfeit next year, should that become necessary, as part of the plan?
“Comfortable” is not a word I would associate the opening of school with. Earlier in the summer, when our numbers were extremely low, and the trend did not look as though it was going to increase, I felt more “comfortable” in our ability to provide a safe return to school. It has taken additional presentations from each department to build that confidence. Superintendent Mittlestadt and her leadership team have worked endlessly to ensure students and staff will be safe. However, we know nothing is 100%. In regards to forgoing activities, I believe we will have to remain flexible and acknowledge that the situation is extremely fluid. I do think it is ridiculous to put local school boards in this position. I have been tracking our local data. Specifically, the hospitalization, death, and pediatric rates, along with the 14-day positivity rate. All of which have been climbing. The State Department of Health, CDC, and the Governor’s Office should be providing some sort of threshold for when schools should be required to re-enter phase one.
Cumulatively, 70 children 17 and younger have been infected in Flagler County, an increase of 31 cases just since July 17, up to Aug. 3. That’s without schools reopening. The CDC and the governor’s office have been punting. It may be ridiculous that school boards are in this position, but here we are: they are. The World Health Organization puts the threshold at 5 percent. Where would you put that threshold, and what authority do you think the board should have in deciding when to go all-remote? Or should that be exclusively an administrative decision?
I don’t believe this should be exclusively an administrative decision the way the “Return to School Plan was.” Not having that plan come before the board created additional frustration and confusion. The plan was shared during a retreat and posted on our website before the retreat had ended. I walked out of that meeting into an avalanche of questions from the community. If the plan had gone before the Board for approval, I believe it would have provided the community and the Board with an opportunity for input. It may have avoided some of the frustration. Therefore, if the Governor, State Health Department, or CDC will not give school districts a guidepost as it relates to pediatric rates, our board and Superintendent’s team should provide the leadership necessary in times like this and identify an appropriate one.
Currently (8/8/20), the pediatric positivity rate for Flagler County is 12%, with 87 positive cases. The state’s average (today) is 15%. Districts, like Miami-Dade, who are starting the school year in a virtual environment, are sitting at a 21% rate. I’d like to see us be proactive and share what that plan is (publicly) so parents and staff know what to expect and how to plan. The Florida Department of Health and Local Health Departments should be providing this guidance. The Executive Order is straight forward – “All school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick an mortar schools a least five days per week for all students, subject to advice and orders of the Florida Department of Health, local departments of health, Executive Order 20=149 and subsequent executive order. Absent these directives, the day-today decision to open or close a school must always rest locally wth the board or executive most closely associated . . .” If districts are not being provided with this guidance (which they are not), then I believe we have a responsibility to provide it.
5. Would you approve or disapprove of a school board policy requiring mask-wearing on campuses and on district properties, where students and staff gather in any group? Explain your position either way.
Face coverings are currently mandated when social distancing is not feasible. It is required for all staff, visitors, and students in the third grade and up. Pre-k through 2nd-grade students is strongly encouraged to wear face coverings. They are required on buses, group spaces where social distancing is not possible. The hope is that students will not need to wear face coverings during instruction because students will be spaced far enough apart.
The district has actually changed its “strongly encouraged” to “required” mask-wearing for 3rd grade and up, on buses, in change-overs and the like? Has it worked out penalties for violators, as with its dress code?
Not at this time.
6. Finances will be a challenge at least for the next two years as the state experiences a significant economic recession and its aftermath. Budget cuts may be necessary. What program areas, aside from instruction, would you cut, and what areas would you consider too critical?
We have built a healthy fund balance to help lessen the blow when faced with budget cuts. We would first most likely initiate a hiring freeze; avoid layoffs through attrition and retirements; reexamine staffing formulas; analyze high-cost programs and scale back where possible.
Barely 20 staffers from all departments opted for the early retirement option the district offered a few weeks back–a surprisingly low number suggesting that despite covid’s hardships, economic hardships may be preventing more people from leaving, which would mean that attrition and retirements won;t be numerous in coming months. So when you say “high-cost programs,” what are some examples?
I’m glad to see us reopen the window. I thought it was too narrow to make the impacted we needed. HR just presented the board with a plan to open it back up. Concerning budget cuts, we would revisit past practices of 10-15% reduction across all cost centers while identifying high-cost programs. For example, in the past block scheduling produced an expensive staffing model. Staff would recommend if any other high cost programs exist.
7. What are the district’s three brightest successes and the three failures that affect students most? What will be your chief priorities regarding student achievement, within the limits of the doable—that is, four years from now, what can we look back to and say: you were responsible?
I am proud of several initiatives Flagler schools have championed over the last four years. The three brightest successes are:
A historic increases in Graduation Rates for ALL Students (14-15 to 18-19). ALL students increased graduation rates from 78% to *92% (*19-20 Projected).
Historic Increases in Exceptional Student Education (ESE) graduations (14-15 to 18-19): Standard Diploma Graduation Rates for Students With Disabilities (SWD) from 57% to 92%. The federal drop-out rate in the county decreased from 24% to 7% amongb students with disabilities. Emotionally/Behaviorally Disabled Students decreased from 67% to 25%. Specific Learning Disabled Students decreased from 19% to 9%.
Post High School Success for Students with Disabilities (14-15 to 17-18):
- Enrolled in Higher Education increased from 19% to 22%
- Enrolled in Higher Education or Competitively Employed increased from 36% to 54%
- Engaged in any Employment or Continuing Education increased from 49% to 64%
A complete redesign of our mental health programs include a multi-tier system of support. Keeping a focus on the emotional and social well-being of our students and staff: Over the last four years, we have made significant improvements in this area. Increasing the number of school psychologists, social workers, staffing specialists, and external partners to maximize our resources, while decreasing the number of children who are being Baker Acted, arrested, or involved in violent behaviors.
Historic Increases in Acceleration Opportunities for ALL Students–Increased dual enrollment opportunities through Daytona State College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, University of North Florida, FTI and the University of Florida, with students receiving an Associates of Arts degree increasing from 37 students to 96 students, a 62% increase in students taking Advanced Placement Courses, 20 different career Flaglership programs offered throughout Flagler Schools, 3,700 students participating in one of our 26 Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and 1,722 Industry & Technical Credentials earned in 18-19.
That’s a lot of numbers for which every board member can take credit for, though in some cases–the graduation rate, for example–those are statewide trends not specific to Flagler. But you haven’t told us where you think the district has failed its students, and what you’d focus on over the next four years.
We are certainly not void of our own challenges. Areas of continued improvement: 1. Our full Inclusion program for students with exceptional needs. At the time full inclusion was proposed, I had cautioned the Superintendent and Board calling attention to what the research suggested in order to successfully implement a full inclusion model. Districts needed to invest appropriately in teacher support in the classroom; adequate and effective training of teachers and parents and teachers needed to have a choice as to whether or not to participate in the program. I have always been proud of the intent of this initiative but believe we have yet to address these issues. We’ve made improvements but if we are going to continue to have full inclusion we must identify appropriate needs and a commitment to supporting the initiative appropriately.
2. Secondary science and math programs: Just like we have focused on improving our STEM opportunities for students in the elementary schools we must insist that secondary students have access to updated science labs that engage students in hands-on learning labs. Given our half penny we should have the most cutting edge technologies available to our students. Science labs and experiments should be an everyday experience for students taking science. In regards to math, we need to reexamine programs to ensure they meet the needs of our students but also build an appropriate bridge for those going on to college. Again, we’ve made improvements in this area but much work needs to be done.
3. Our middle and high school schedules provide the minimum instructional time. Teacher planning remains outside of the school day. We should be actively seeking to resolve this issue.
8. In 2022, the district’s half-penny surtax on the sales tax expires. The district will seek to renew it. Evaluate its worth, explaining how you see where it’s paid off, how you see where it has not. Do you support its renewal? Would you alter its scope and fund different items from those funded now?
My work with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University allows me to visit numerous school districts. I genuinely believe that sometimes we do not realize how fortunate we are. Most communities do not have access to the level of technology that Flagler Schools has provided to their students and teachers. We were able to handle a total conversion to online crisis teaching and learning during covid-19 because we had the technology to do it. It may not have been perfect but we were able to provide devices to our students to continue their education. We were the first and only county in the state and one of a few in the nation, to provide every student with access to technology and one-to-one devices. This could never have happened without the local support of Flagler County taxpayers and the half-penny sales tax. Early on we saw a future need. We understood the research and the future workforce requirements, and with the support of local taxpayers we were able to invest in the technology and the infrastructure needed for a 21st century learning organization. We have been good stewards of these tax dollars. Our budget transparency allows the taxpayers to see a clear accounting of these dollars.
I would support the renewal of the half-penny in 2022. I believe it would be important to gather community input in regards to changing the scope or purpose of the dollars. I would support the altering of the scope to consider the following ideas: funding advanced technologies tied to future careers within our Flaglership programs; retire our remaining non-airconditioned busses; put instructional time back into the secondary school day; school security and expand our innovative learning spaces across the district.
That’s a long list that the halfpenny sales tax revenue alone could not shoulder: you attempted to bring back instructional time and pay for security with the property tax increase a few years ago. Isn’t this a wishful promise that could not possibly be kept in addition to current technological capital needs?
Sure it is. It was a list of initiatives that need funding. However, the final decision would not happen in isolation; only after input from all stakeholders has been gathered.
9. The County Commission through the sheriff pay for roughly half the cost of sheriff’s deputies in schools but it doesn’t have to: security is a district responsibility. This year, some school board members grumbled about the cost of the contract with the sheriff and suggested alternatives could be sought. What is your opinion of the district’s relationship and contract with the sheriff’s office? In light of the Black Lives Matter movement’s directions, are you comfortable with the presence of deputies on campus? If arming staff as opposed to contracting with the sheriff is the more affordable way to go, would you?
First, let me be very clear – we love our SRD’s. They have become and are an essential part of our Flagler school’s family. We value the relationship we have with Sheriff Staly. Unfortunately, we have been put in a situation following the tragic events of Parkland that make the sustainability of our SRD contract difficult. Before Parkland, our SRD contract was $289,000 for six SRD’s and eight crossing guards. The City of Palm Coast covered the cost of one. After Parkland, Florida statue required school districts to have an SRD at each school or to utilize the Guardian program, armed school personnel, hired security group, or a combination.
The first contract to meet these criteria was $788,942. It paid for 10 Deputies, 1 Sergeant, 1 Commander, and 9 Crossing Guards. This year’s contract was $851,89 for 10 SRD’s, 1 Commander, 1 Sergeant, and nine crossing guards. Palm Coast pays for a full deputy position as does Imagine Schools to bring the total to 12 deputies.
The bottom line is that an 8 percent increase is just not sustainable. We have already been told to expect another increase next year. The Board will have no option but to begin to explore utilizing the other options or a combination that is allowed within Florida Statue. It is my hope that we can continue to work with Sheriff Staly to explore options and find a solution that meets both our needs. No, I am not comfortable with having school personnel armed. However, I am open to considering retired PD or SRD’s who might be able to provide assistance.
Yes, I am still comfortable with having deputies on campus.
10. Of course you support all rights for students. But LGBTQ rights were at issue this year, and may be at issue again during your tenure. Evaluate the way the district handled the matter of “gender identity” this year, keeping that wording out of its non-discrimination policy. Would you revisit the issue? If a student identifies differently from what’s on the student’s birth certificate, with regard to biological sex, what should the student’s school do, or not do, with regards to accommodate that identity?
The United States Department of Educations, Office of Civil Rights is pretty clear about this issue. The following is directly from their website. “Every school and every school leader has a responsibility to protect all students and ensure every child is respected and can learn in an accepting environment. Title IX protects all students, including LGBTQ students, from sex discrimination. Title IX encompasses discrimination based on a student’s failure to conform to stereotyped notions of masculinity and femininity. Schools should also be aware of their obligation under Title IX and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to protect the privacy of their students when maintaining education records.” My job as a school board member is to ensure students can learn in a safe environment. It is not to judge but to protect.
You’re not telling us if you’d revisit the LGBTQ issue or seek a rewrite of the policy, nor are you telling us how you wish a school would handle, say, the public accommodations of a student who does not identify according to the student’s biological sex at birth.
Of course, if this was brought before the board again, I would support it. Since I was in the minority of the original vote, I can not bring it back for a vote again.
11. Last school year the Flagler Health Department sought to add the HPV-suppressing Gardasil vaccine to the other vaccines it already provides on campus, free, on a voluntary basis. The school board split 3-2 against. How would you vote should the issue arise again and why?
I voted no on this issue and would most likely vote no again. This vaccine that should be the responsibility of the parent and not the school.
Why is this vaccine any different than the vaccines you do offer at school? Would you also say that the eventual covid vaccine is the responsibility of parents and not schools? Either one is scientifically offered as a life-saver (presuming a covid vaccine is forthcoming).
I fully support a parent’s right to vaccinate their child. I struggle with the school district becoming the entity responsible for this. Parents can get the vaccine for their children just as they do other vaccines: at their doctor’s office or even at the health department itself. My cousin passed away from cervical cancer before her 30th birthday. I’m sensitive to this issue and, of course, would never want anyone to go through what she did. In addition, my family has had our own experience when my son had an adverse reaction to the MMR vaccine when he was 18 months. He developed ITP, which is a serious blood disorder of the platelets. He’s in remission but went through total hell, and will always have it. We were one of those vaccine-exempt families. I don’t think it’s appropriate for the school district to interject itself in this situation. This decision should be between a physician and the child’s family. I don’t think signing consent and sticking it in a backpack is sufficient. I fully support an awareness campaign, encouraging the vaccine. It is free, and parents can get it at the health department or through their primary doctor.
12. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the district’s Flagship program.
The Flaglership concept was born out of the financial crash of 2007-08. Flagler County went from the fastest growing community in the United States to the housing industry flatlining. It became glaringly apparent at that time, Flagler’s entire economy was the construction and real estate industry. We came together with other local officials to discuss how we must diversify our economy. We worked with local leaders to identify targeted sectors already identified by the state workforce development plan. Industry clusters were used to established our Flagship programs in various schools. The Flagships were to provide students with a deeper dive into those possible career fields and in our high schools provide students with an opportunity to earn an industry certification that would allow students to enter the workforce directly. The programs have grown in capacity and function throughout the district. Where we only had a few, we now have multiple opportunities in every school. The strength of the program is evident in the growth of each school’s offering, the support each program receives from the community, and the real-world networking opportunities for students and ultimately being placed in a position and earning a competitive wage. However, this strength is also a weakness. Participation can be limited due to a lack of capacity. Another fault is finding and holding on to highly qualified industry credentialed individuals to teach within the programs.
13. Should you be held to account for what you display on your social media pages any differently than for what you would say anywhere public?
14. Have you ever been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor anywhere in Flagler, Florida or the United States (other than a speeding ticket), or faced a civil action other than a divorce, but including bankruptcies, or faced any investigative or disciplinary action through a professional board such as the bar or a medical board? If so, please explain, including cases where charges or claims did not lead to conviction or disciplinary action.
FPC granny says
Colleen Conklin for sure has my vote!
John the Baptist says
Dr. Conklin is by far the best candidate for this position. She has a wealth of experience and corporate memory. She is fully engaged in our community with her work on suicide prevention, Teens-In-Flight and other causes as the list goes on. Dr. Conklin is a strong advocate for student success. One of her biggest assets is her communication skills! She is never too busy that she won’t return a phone call or email. The community would be very foolish not to reelect Dr. Conklin. She is a treasure and truly cares for our students success!
Go Colleen!! says
I didn’t even have to read this article, I already know Colleen is the best candidate for the job. If you do not already know that, you probably should not be allowed to vote. Sorry, but that’s how I feel. She’s that well fit for the job. No offense to anyone. Go Colleen, and thank you for your tireless, proactive service. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.
White Bronco says
This lady is a genuine class act. She has my vote. Down to earth, reasonable. Fair. Balanced. Human. This county needs her type, Absolutely.
Mike Cocchiola says
Coleen Walsh-Conklin has fought for a superior education for our kids and kept the school board foused on our school system rather than our cultural divide. She has the most experience on the board than anyone in Flagler County and her advice and counsel on education are respected by all.
Reelect Coleen Walsh-Conklin to the Flagler County school board. We need her!
Palm Coast Resident says
One of her opponents is a fairly strong candidate for school board, and her answers demonstrate that, even so, she is a fantastic asset to our community and to our students. Her answer regarding transformational change indicates she sticks to core values and is dedicated to pushing the needle for necessary change when environmental, social, and even economic environmental influences require new looks at our educational systems. She continues to work in the public and private sector in a field related to education, and her knowledge, education, experience, and passion are to be commended.
I don’t think we can afford to lose this one from our board.
Flagler ESE Advocates says
Here are three major problems parents of students with disabilities should have with Conklin’s statements regarding inclusive education:
1. Ms. Conklin uses the word “if” when referring to having full inclusion in Flagler Schools. Inclusion is THE LAW. It is not a matter of “if”. To us, this statement does not show a dedication to inclusive education. We need a leader that will set an example that inclusive education, according to the data, is the right thing to strive for for all students (those with and without disabilities) and will be unwavering in their commitment to it.
2. According to the above statement, Ms. Conklin fully admits that she has been aware FOR YEARS that there has been a lack of support and training for our District to have a successful inclusion program and has not made it a priority. This is alarming to us as parents of a student with a disability in an inclusive classroom.
3. Ms. Conklin states that teachers need a choice as to whether they can reject students with disabilities from their classrooms. Where does this end? Can teachers also reject students from their classrooms based on other immutable characteristics, like their race, gender identity or sexual orientation? No, of course not!!
We need a leader who will change the culture of our District to be accepting of ALL students in an inclusive setting.
It’s time for new leadership, which is why Flagler ESE Advocates, the administrators of the Flagler ESE Support Group, supports Paul Mucciolo, who is an unwavering representative for ESE students.