The Charlotte County School District was able to check off most of its requests from a wish list presented to state legislators this year.

The district compacted its list into four key priorities which included security, support for the growing aviation industry, workforce education, and re-employment of staff.

“We nipped and tucked away at the priorities,” said district lobbyist Vern Crawford at a workshop last week. “You never get everything you want.”

Bob Segur, school board chairman, said this session has been “the most well-received effort in my experience on the board.”

At the legislative delegation last December, state representatives said they were impressed that the County Commission, Punta Gorda City Council, Airport Authority and School Board all showed up seemingly trying to move in one direction for Charlotte County.

“They appeared impressed we came as a community,” Segur said, adding he thought that was part of the reason the district fared so well from this session.

What the district asked for:

  • Funding for secure and safe schools:

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  • allocations for Safe Schools for current programs and increase funding to assure every school has a law enforcement officer or trained armed guard in each school, expand funding for mental health counseling and other services, such as making permanent funding for Charlotte County’s Community Action Team (CAT)
  • Matching dollars for an Airframe Power Plant Mechanic program that will support the growing aviation industry in Florida.
  • Restore Workforce Education Funding to 2007 levels: as well as commit to annual increases thereafter for school districts to meet state and regional workforce needs as outlined by the Department of Economic Opportunity
  • Re-employment of certain personnel:

allow the district to re-employ staff one month after retirement, with no penalty to their pension, rather than the current requirements, which can delay re-employment for up to a year.

What the district got:

  • Continuation of Safe Schools (SB7030) with flexibility for security officer funding, continues mental health, Florida Education Finance Program budget increased Safe Schools $68 million statewide, $50 million in non-salary hardening funding and $18 million statewide increase in mental health counseling. As a result of the increase in mental health counseling funding, Charlotte County will receive $476,918 for the 2019-20 school year. The district currently has four social workers and one psychologist. In the upcoming school year, they will add an additional four social workers and three additional psychologists. Over $30 million statewide will go toward Children’s Community Action Treatment Team for fiscal year 2020, $750,000 going to Charlotte Behavioral Healthcare (line item 367 SB2500, HB3401).
  • $250,000 continuation grant for Charlotte County Technical College air frame and power plant mechanic program (line item 127, SB2500).
  • Adjunct teachers can work full-time up to three years, rather than part-time employment for career-technical teachers (HB7071). For example: hiring industry professionals, not teachers, for career and technical education positions or positions like information technology, plumbers, etc.

The school board will discuss district priorities for the upcoming legislative session at their June 18 workshop meeting. The district aims to have a first draft of key priorities complete by the end of July, before the Greater Florida Consortium of School Boards and Florida School Board Association meetings.

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