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Sarasota County School Board is looking for substitute teachers.

SARASOTA - All Sarasota County School District employees will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccination at Venice High School on Sunday.

Superintendent Brennan Asplen announced the news at the bi-monthly school board meeting on Tuesday night.

“Any employee who has not received the vaccine at this point can get in on Sunday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.,” Asplen said. “This will be your last opportunity. Remember to bring your employee ID card.”

Members of the Sarasota County School Board discussed a number of issues at its Tuesday workshop. Some items included a new employee benefits program, a new Equity Committee for the district and an update on the annual Strategic Plan. 

The board hired a consultant to help with the annual Strategic Plan that the district implements each year.

Board members viewed a presentation given by a representative from DeliverEd, a program used by several other districts throughout the state.

“Our approach is intended to be a partnership,” said Corey Gorden, of DeliverEd. “We believe in a collaborate relationship that will hopefully change the outcome of the district’s goals.”

Gorden said progress monitoring systems will set goals for teachers and learning plans.

“A committee will sit down with the superintendent and he will receive updates on progress,” Gorden said. “Each goal is defined through a series of outcome metrics.”

Focus groups are discussing ideas now.

“We will share results in May and use that information to build our architecture for the Plan,” Gorden said. “June and July will be focused on the timelines for implementing the Plan. We will gather feedback at that time.”

Progress monitoring routines will be implemented in August and September.

“We need to keep moving this forward so we’re prepared for August,” Asplen said.

New Equity Committee & leader

The superintendent introduced the new Head of Equity for the district, Harriet Moore.

Moore has put together an Equity Committee with the purpose of closing the academic achievement gap and eliminating academic disparity.

“The committee works collaboratively with the District Director of Innovation to address issues and concerns within our school district,” Moore said.

There are currently 33 volunteers on the committee.

“Changes next year may allow for some new participants,” Moore said. “We’d certainly like to see more parents and students from south county get involved, but we understand transportation is an issue.”


New insurance/benefits contract

Lynn Peterson, human resources supervisor for the district, updated the board on benefit changes that will be coming for the district.

“Five different insurance/benefit systems are were reviewed,” Peterson said. “Aon Consulting was chosen to assist in evaluating the benefits system vendors. After going through demonstrations, staff unanimously voted on a company called Businessolver, because it is highly configurable, has a wellness subpage and offers a virtual assistant.”

The new benefit system will be in effect in September 2021.

Employees will have access to live and recorded benefit workshops, as well as virtual and on-site employee enrollment assistance.

Aon will assist with a large communication campaign to notify employees of all the changes they will need to participate in open enrollment.

Legislative update:

The Florida House and Senate committees met last week and shared budget projections.

A couple of bills are seeing some movement.

The Senate’s attempt to revamp the Bright Futures scholarships program is moving forward.

Last week, some amendments were added to the bill.

There are two things the bill will do: Require that students register via a Dashboard, and students will need to talk to a guidance counselors to discuss careers that offer higher wages and approach employers that could lead to a job.

During their School Board meeting, the board approved an agreement to purchase sites for future schools in the Wellen Park community, providing the infrastructure assurance in the form of a bond for the construction of the future Manasota Beach Road to River Road, which will front the future sites of the schools.

It also noted that 37% of students in the county participated in the virtual STEM Fair this year. Each received a special recognition award plaque at the Tuesday evening meeting.

Superintendent report:

April is child abuse prevention month in Florida. A proclamation was read by Chair Shirley Brown from Gov. Ron DeSantis. The proclamation can be viewed via the school district website.

Applications for the Florida prepaid scholarship opportunities are being accepted now. The scholarships are $1,000. Applications must be submitted by Friday, April 30.

The next meeting is 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 20.

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