Flagler County School Board member Sally Hunt thinks the district’s school libraries are “huge,” could be shrunk and used for other purposes, and books shipped in to students from the public library through a “courier” service.
Hunt made all those startling suggestions while proposing a longer discussion on the topic at a workshop on Tuesday, a few hours before she voted with two of her colleagues to fire Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt (technically, to “non-renew” her contract).
The proposal took School Board member Colleen Conklin aback. “Are you talking about doing away with libraries?”
Hunt seemed to say no, only to segue into a different answer: “I was at the Rymfire [Elementary] library last week, it’s huge. And I when I talked with Mr. Lee,” she said, referring to Travis Lee, the principal at Rymfire, “I said it’d be so interesting to find out what the usage report [is]. Like, of all of this square footage on any given school day, like, could we be using a quarter, like could the library be a quarter of the current space that it is, and what else could we do with that space? You know, is it a smaller footprint? Do a lot of our self-select books, could they be at the public library instead of using the square footage of our schools, and what else can we do with that space?” Hunt says if schools are overcrowded, libraries may be used more efficiently to address that.
Open-stack library shelves are by definition lined with books that students select by choice. In district lingo, the books are “self-selections,” differentiated from books, texts and other materials assigned re required to be read as part of a student’s course work. All 22 titles three individuals are challenging in the the district, and have led to some books being banned, are self-selected school library books, with one exception (The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, is part of the curriculum).
Hunt went on, at one point saying that “when I walk into our library and time and time and time again, I’m standing in the middle of this huge library, and it’s really pretty empty,” and at another saying that “the lot of school library has been the same really for decades,” a statement students and media specialists would dispute, as would the evidence of usage of the media center even at Rymfire, a school originally built as a K-8 center. The library space reflects that engineering.
It’s large, but that space with its flexibility is used for two or three different classes simultaneously at times, with still more space used for other purposes. It’s used for tutoring by reading mentors and for counseling by social workers. It’s used as meeting space for school-level faculty and for district staff. It’s used to process all school books, including textbooks. It’s used for book fairs, for special events (in May, for example, parts of it will be used for a Reading Pal Celebration) for after-school events, for grade-wide presentations that require spaces larger than a classroom, and of course it is used as a library, to allow students to browse, pick and choose books at will.
It’s also used by clubs like the Future Problem Solvers, Student Council, Yearbook, and when a class as to be relocated, it’s used for that, too, just as district staff uses it when, say, it needs meeting space for its safety team.
“Everybody in a school pretty much gets to use the library. So the usage might shock you,” Conklin told Hunt. “You might be surprised at how well the libraries are used.”
The Matanzas High School addition being constructed now is heavily focused on a larger media center and its flexible uses, in contrast with a tiny media center there now. The Flagler Palm Coast High School media center was reconfigured several years ago to reflect students’ more current needs in libraries. (See: “At FPC, Community Problem Solvers Re-Imagine Library as Fluid ‘Learning Commons.’“) It does not appear that Hunt, who homeschools her child, is familiar with media centers’ central roles in the functioning of schools.
“Since books are such a focus right now, maybe it’s time that we just think about the school library and what does it need to be today in order to accomplish our reading goals or, you know, literacy?” Hunt continued, the implication being that the way to greater literacy was through fewer books, smaller libraries and new hurdles to acquiring books, if a courier would be needed to bring them from the public library.
Then she took on media specialists: “What can our media specialists be doing? I know I’d love to do more of a deep dive in terms of what is their role, what could it be? Should they instead be director of literacy, part of the leadership team? I just think it’s such a fascinating conversation that I would love to just explore what could this be.”
Hunt, of her own admission, says she speaks with “a lot of people” as she goes about figuring out how to lead, as she went about orchestrating her part of the firing of the superintendent while shopping for a replacement. Though she has full and open access to every school, and spends a considerable amount of time in particular schools, it isn’t clear why she has not had conversations with media specialists, who are not numerous and are among the district’s most accessible faculty: answering questions is in their job description.
Board member Will Furry, who last week voted with Christy Chong to ban a book, was willing to explore “looking at modernizing our media centers if we don’t feel they’re living up to the the expectations of our students right now and parents, then that’s a conversation to have but I would say let’s get that utilization report of the library so we can really know how each school is engaging with their their media center.” But he was more interested in devoting workshop time to a discussion on the district’s book-challenge policy, which he appears to want to change (he considers it too permissive).
“This is just, hey, is there an opportunity for a discussion,” Hunt said. But then she went on to wonder about students’ reading habits: “I would love to know, at each campus, what are the top 100 titles that are being checked out? You know, like, what books are being checked out? How many are being checked out there?”
A workshop segment that would address at least some of Hunt’s perceptions will be scheduled. “It’s not just about a class being walked down and picking a book off the shelf,” Mittelstadt said. “There’s so much more in that learning how that occurs that I know media specialist would love to brag upon.”
More garbage from this woman. Would Ms. Hunt propose to give the “unused” space to her Chamber cronies? (Sarcasm intended.) I do not believe school board members can be recalled and the Ethics Commission is a DeSantis tool. As a community, we need to get in the faces of these 3 school board members at every meeting and also pursue all public records requests against all of them and the Chamber as well.
Nephew Of Uncle Sam says
” and books shipped in to students from the public library through a “courier” service.”
I’m so sorry I ever Voted for Sally Hunt, just clueless. Why go through the mess of book bans when we can save time and just do away with libraries all together. Then students will only have books delivered to them that have been State approved. The dumbing down of Florida children will be even faster then. Sally would be the darling of Moms for Lunacy.
So this person that home schools her children obviously has preconceived negative attitudes about public education, from the top to bottom.
Nico Bergraat says
I am gobsmacked and flabbergasted with her views and vote against Mittlestadt…beyond comprehension
Dennis C Rathsam says
Who gives a rats ass what this wolf in sheeps clothing, says, is in her words? Or what the Peacock said? Only the shadow knows… And our kids get screwed again. Parents keep a eye on whats happening. This school board leaves much to be desired. Its funny, one lies…& the others sware to it. Who do you believe????
“Hunt went on, at one point saying that “when I walk into our library and time and time and time again, I’m standing in the middle of this huge library, and it’s really pretty empty,”
That’s because they know *you’re* there.
Marty Reed says
I am disturbed with our local Democratic Party. I feel that they did not properly vet Sally Hunt as a candidate for this position. I would imagine that most people that voted for her feel the same. We were all deceived! Moreover, Ms. Hunt has not been forthcoming with regard to her agenda. Shame on us all who cast our votes for Sally. A lession learned; we must do our own research on candidates going foeward!
Bailey’s Mom says
Let’s not blame the Democratic Party otherwise you need to look at the Republican Party (Danko, Mullins, Lowe, Blose, the Reverend, to name a few).
Let’s stick to the topic, all 3 new Board members should have been vetted as they all appear to be under the influence of a Peacock, God, and their Spouse! Apparently they did NOT read their duties and responsibilities of being a board member! They are not to be influenced by fear or favor!
If you need help, reach out as there are many people in this community who will help.
Nephew Of Uncle Sam says
I wouldn’t be disturbed by the Democratic Party, they did the proper vetting for this position which is really non-partisan for the time being. I would think though the Democrat Party needs to distance themselves from Sally Hunt as far as possible. Had the other choice been elected we would be in a lot deeper of a mess by now.
@Oh hell — might as well
Apprehensive of inspiring the mindless, I hesitated to speak. Maybe this will be prophylactic — coming from me.
Go get em! The 3 monkeys are on to something: rent books, or better yet, make them a subscription — and as impossible to cancel as a music club membership. Learning may lag, but the subscriptions could become as enduring as a tattoo.
I can see it now: The Sally Hunt, et al., Media Center, Vending Machine Emporium, and VR Gun Range. Of course, a real gun range would greatly increase potential revenue.
A proper entry edifice, could include a pediment enshrining a great purpose: Law enforcement, or life of violent crime — a place to find yourself.
Chong’s dad owns a gun store so you’re on to something…
Guns are legal last time I checked
Looks like the newbie on the School Board is bending over backward to follow deathsantis in the dumming down of public schools children. And to think we thought that only Chong and Furry were on a crusade to harm our children!!!!
Maybe Hunt pulled this new lunacy about media centers out of her anatomy (no due diligence there) to distract us from the orders she took from peacock/chamber of commerce.
From the bottom of my heart thank you Conklin and Massaro for doing your job under extreme circumstances, it is never about you because you always have the children and staff in mind. Sometimes it must feel like you are in enemy territory., hang in there a little longer.
Randi Fasnacht says
I’m pretty sure the three school board members and Chamber are trying to destroy public education. I would never have guessed that of Sally Hunt for whom I voted. The firing of Mittlestadt, and her ideas about our media centers is just completely shocking to me. Why did I work so hard to get her elected? This just has me not only confused, but outraged!
I was also deceived, the fact that I persuaded people to vote for her, is sickening. Each day, I feel more betrayed. She said she has lost “friends”, she was never a friend. At least, Chong and Furry were honest about where they stand on issues. Sally is deceitful, she has shown her true character, her new ” friends” better watch their backs.
Jack Howell says
By the way, the next book to be banned is The Donal Duck Comics. Since Donald Duck wears no pants, he has become the target of being morally objectionable! Will Doonesbury be next because of stinging political satire?
Gee, I wonder what she has up her sleeve when comes to football stadiums, school theaters, cafeterias, and the band room. Then there are parking lots. School teachers can take the bus to work. Boy, talk about all that empty space. Think of the school taxes we’ll save – Ha!
Flagler County – is now the leader in training the stupidly ignorant.
Maybe those of us who can still read and write ought to vote next time.
Hey, I have an idea….
Since we are moving backwards…….
WHY not bring back….
Davy Crocket Caps, Sock Hops, Poodle Skirts, Penny Loafers, Soda Fountains, Full length Aprons with pockets, Elvis, etc!
Michael Cocchiola says
Hey, Sally… how about you let the schools decide for themselves the size and content of school libraries. Are you now a MAGA Moms For (Liberty) Lobotomy?
I never believed in time travellers but now I do! Sally Hunt came from the Middle Ages. I truly regret voting for her.
Absolutely Disgusted says
Has this woman completely lost her mind??? Take libraries away from children and no longer allow them to actually choose a book??? Of all the idiotic thoughts that have come from this woman and the newly elected board members, this is the last straw. A recall is in order and there must be a way it can be done. This lunacy must stop!!
Tel U says
what potential implications could this have for the media industry and society as a whole?
The Moon Witch says
“Hunt went on, at one point saying that “when I walk into our library and time and time and time again, I’m standing in the middle of this huge library, and it’s really pretty empty,”… That’s how the one brain cell left in her brain feels.
More Fascism in Flagler says
Of course this Fascist is afraid of books and media. These people…they want our minds closed and wiped. They want us sitting here, like drones, waiting to be told what we can do, what we can think, or what we can say. What’s next? An audit of everyone’s home libraries? Blu-Ray collection? Music collection? What I watch on TV or on the internet? Why are you Republicans okay with this nanny state? Seriously, owning the libs I imagine gets you all giddy, but why? You openly agree with fascism and authoritarianism. Many of DeSantis and Hunt’s talking points are straight out of a communist manifesto. Ahhh but see, there lies the rub…if they ban books, and ban media, and ban certain education, and ban, ban, ban, people won’t know what they’re doing is the will of Putin and Orban, and not the Founding Fathers.
They want people just going along lockstep, doing approved motions…I’m a million percent serious when I say if you think you’re safe from their reach and their wrath, you are not. They are coming for everyone that doesn’t bow down to them. Divorced? Use birth control, including condoms? Religion other than Christian? Anyone not white? Woman? LGBTQ? Immigrant (of which nearly all our ancestors were)? Speak your mind? The list is endless who they will target if you let them keep trending toward fascism.
We have a very short window to save this country from becoming Hungary or Russia. Republicans will remove democratically elected people from office, because they can, and because they want power and money. They don’t actually care about the harm they are inflicting. It’s all about accumulation of wealth, power, and destroying anyone that opposes them. That’s not what it means to be an American and I truly hope people start remembering that here and in ID, TN, TX, MO, NC, etc, before it’s too late.
Excellent post! Scary but true. It is terrifying to see what is happening to this county, state, country.
Why would voters put a Homeschool parent on the school board? She obviously doesn’t believe in public education and does not have it’s best interests in mind.
Nephew Of Uncle Sam says
Because the other choice was worse.
The question was not raised during the election campaign or was ignored.
The question I personally had was where she stood on separation of church and state… not whether she was a homeschooling parent. She did not answer the question (on separation). Nevertheless, there was no better alternative to Hunt at the time.
In hindsight if one knew of her homeschooling stance, one would deduce that she were homeschooling her children for a reason… perhaps that would have shed light on how she stood on the separation issue and so on.
As some have said elsewhere here on Flagler Live, she was a “Trojan Horse” candidate.
Just an opinion.
Sally Trump needs to go and she should take her Peacock Trump bae with her.
G A says
I am so disappointed in Hunt and honestly have severe doubts that she has ever been a democrat. I am not sure what her game is but we sure didn’t have to wait long to find out. Her true colors are showing and support for her rapidly disappearing by the day. Lesson learned. We will vet much more intensely.
Really??? Close down school libraries! I wonder what’s next from this member lacking an educational background? Maybe we should shut down the school cafeterias and eliminate school aftercare programs. Then we can outcast all school bus services. This will really take progress back 50 years.
Who voted this person in and why? Political affiliations over common sense for our children. Another missed opportunity to do the right thing for our county and schools.
I thought I knew her. I considered her a friend. I spoke with her numerous times about education, books, etc. This is all a shock to me.
You people got the person you voted for. Just because someone actually wants to have a conversation about something doesn’t mean they want to get rid of it all together. Maybe a civil conversation about *many* issues is what the school board needed all along. Instead of running the people they didn’t like out on a rail.
Dee Cocchiola says
Sally it’s time for you to sit and keep quiet as you don’t have a clue what is going on around you. Smart people don’t make fools of themselves and you are not a smart person. Sit back keep quiet and let the two adults in the room do the talking.
Why does Will Furry want to ban so many books? Did he listen to Rand Paul say by banning books we are becoming like China. Is that what he wants?
Deborah Coffey says
How do we begin the RECALL process for Sally Hunt? She has lied, lied, and lied some more to every one of her voters. She’s George Santos in drag.
Deborah Coffey says
Forget this. Florida law does not permit recalls for school board members. Maybe a lawsuit….
Nancy N. says
There is no recall process for school board members. So we are stuck with her unless the governor were to remove her, which we all know isn’t going to happen.
This woman has lost her flipping mind. What an A-hole but I can say I did not vote for any of these 3 stooges. Lord help the children in this community.
Jane gardner says
As a former school librarian, every time I read about Florida schools removing books off the shevles I feel blessed to live in WA state. Books are not pulled off shelves willy nilly. We have procedures in place if a book is being challenged.
Today I just read that a school board member wants to turn the libraries upside down. What next? Banning children from pleasure reading? Where do you find these board members?
Has Mrs. Hunt never had the pleasure of browsing the shelves of a library for something intriguing? Would she deprive children of the same? Many of my favorite authors during both my childhood and adulthood were discovered that way. I took my 3yo granddaughter to the public library yesterday and it is a marvel – so much available to all of us in the form of meeting spaces, computers, recordings, books, displays, classes and presentations – why on earth should children not have access to such a brilliantly conceived space in their very own building? We brought home two books from her favorite series, two by authors and illustrators unknown to me, and a new adult author for me – books discovered, not ordered. One of the children’s books we picked up is entitled “Monsoon” – I would never have thought of providing that on my own, but I know that Grandchild will be captivated by the pictures and story. I suspect that if Mrs. Hunt is a homeschooler, she has not considered that her entire home is a media center – nor that many children do not have access to the same resources in their homes. Even given our home of hundreds of books and periodicals, our granddaughter can find much more in the library, and I can hardly wait for her to be old enough to have free reign, both in the public and school libraries and media centers.
Dumb ’em down Hunt, Furry and Chong dumb ’em down. They only need one book to get the job done, and on page one of one, it states “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” That should do it, right?
Huge media room, huh? I can tell you my elementary school had more books than in the pictures here, and that was in the ’50’s and ’60’s, but back then, the goal was to teach kids to think, and to experience worlds beyond their present room.
I guess they need an extra space for trans bathrooms.
What Else Is New says
Recall Sally Santos Hunt.
Palm Coast Citizen says
Libraries are always way more than what we realize. They’re the one true salve of information where one is free to meet with others, search for hard-copy information that hasn’t been pre-curated for us based on our online data journeys. It’s an unbiased depot to connect with others, explore, and just simply be.
In 1997 or so, I worked at the portrait studio that once existed in the super walmart. I was in the front, and about once a week, and older citizen could be heard bickering about the “new” library being considered (the one on Belle Terre and Palm Coast Parkway). They said, “No one reads any more.” It’s more than that!