Monday, January 26, 2015

Beloved Land O’ Lakes Cross Country Coach Keppel Succumbs to Cancer

 Land O’ Lakes, FL – (January 25, 2015) – Land O’ Lakes High School Principal Ric Mellin notified staff and students today that Coach Kris Keppel passed away from pancreatic cancer this afternoon.            

Following is the text of his recorded message:

It is with a heavy heart that I am calling this evening to inform everyone of the passing of Kris Keppel.  I was informed that he passed at 4:32PM this afternoon while in hospice care.  Kris Keppel spent more than two decades as the coach of the Land O’ Lakes High cross-country team, as the school’s media specialist, and as a teacher. Mr. Keppel was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer over a year ago. Despite the exhausting treatments, he continued to be a member of our staff and attend as many cross country practices and meets as he could up until his retirement this past fall. He is survived by daughters Meredith and Morgan, and wife Dar.

The district’s crisis team is mobilizing to respond to the school tomorrow to help students and staff work through the grieving process.  Contact the district’s Communications Office for updates and please respect the family’s privacy as they mourn the loss of Coach Keppel.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pasco County Schools’ Employee Health Initiatives Earn Recognition from American Heart Association

Florida school district is among elite group of Platinum Fit-Friendly Worksites.

Land O’ Lakes, FL – (January 23, 2015) – As the nation recognizes American Heart Month this February, the District School Board of Pasco County is celebrating news that it earned the Platinum Fit-Friendly Worksite Award from the American Heart Association for demonstrating a strong commitment to providing a healthy workplace. 

“Physical activity and employee wellness are important priorities for us at the district, so we are honored and excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association,” said Superintendent Kurt Browning.

The Fit-Friendly Worksites program is a catalyst for positive change in making employees’ health and wellness a priority.  Qualifications for the platinum-level include:

• Offering employees physical activity options in the workplace.
• Increasing healthy eating options at the worksite.
• Promoting a wellness culture in the workplace.
• Implementing at least nine criteria outlined by the American Heart Association in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and culture.
• Demonstrating measurable outcomes related to workplace wellness.

“We’re committed to providing the best workplace environment possible. This will benefit our employees’ health and produce even more positive results for our worksite overall,” said School Board Member Cynthia Armstrong, who represents the board on the district’s Employee Wellness Committee.

Pasco County schools also took an innovative approach to cut costs while enhancing healthcare for its more than 10,000 members by offering onsite care for employees, retirees and dependents.

“Employees, retirees and dependents visiting the onsite health and wellness centers enjoy free and convenient access to primary medical, screenings, lab work, X-rays, EKG, occupational health, wellness programs, disease management, and generic prescriptions,” said Ray Tomlinson, president of Crowne Consulting Group, which collaborates with CareHere Crowne LLC to operate more than 30 health and wellness centers throughout Florida, including five centers for Pasco County schools.

Ocoee-based Crowne Consulting Group’s management of the district’s CareHere health centers, in combination with Tampa-based Med-Vision’s health-data analytics for wellness planning, have proved valuable in helping the district’s wellness committee create results-driven programs.  For example, the district’s incentive program rewards employees who complete a health-risk assessment, follow-up with a health coach, and complete a questionnaire.  If an employee completes these three sections, he or she is awarded $150.  Employees can earn up to $100 in additional incentive awards for completing a program on CareHere Connect, an online wellness portal, or attending three out of four onsite-wellness sessions.

These incentives resulted in approximately $14 Million in savings over the past three years.  These achievements were highlighted in the December 2014 issue of District Administration Magazine, and have earned the district several local, state, and national awards in addition to the current honor from the American Heart Association.

About The District School Board of Pasco County:  Pasco County Schools is the 11th largest school district in Florida and the 50th largest in the nation, with more than 69,000 students and nearly 11,000 employees.  The district includes 45 elementary schools, 16 middle schools, 13 high schools, four centers, nine charter schools, and a robust eschool.  Pasco is led by an elected superintendent and five elected school board members, who administer a $1.2 billion annual budget.  More than 93 percent of the general fund resources are committed to teaching and other school-level programs such as transportation, counseling, psychological services, school administration, and operations & maintenance.

About Crowne Consulting Group, Inc:  Crowne Consulting Group, Inc., founded in 1986, consults and provides administrative oversight services for onsite health and wellness centers to employers and is a related company with The Crowne Group, an employee benefits consulting firm, specializing in employer solutions and personal lines of insurance.  Crowne’s experts have experience in serving public sector employers such as school boards, city and county government, as well as private organizations.  Solutions for consumer-driven plans include health reimbursement arrangements, self-funded plans, onsite health and wellness centers, as well as risk management and human resources consulting. Call 407-654-5414 or visit for more information.

About the American Heart Association: The American Heart Association is devoted to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Our mission drives everything we do. To improve the lives of all Americans, we provide public health education in a variety of ways. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke.

Media Contacts:

District School Board of Pasco County
Linda Cobbe, Director
Communications & Government Relations
(813)794-2717 / (813) 361-8349

Crowne Consulting Group
Ray Tomlinson, President
(321) 221-0665 /(407) 654-5414


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

School Board Approves Raises

Land O’ Lakes, FL – (January 20, 2015) – The District School Board of Pasco County approved one of the highest raises of any Florida school district at tonight’s board meeting, assuring an average 3 percent raise for all employees.

The bargaining units ratified the 2014-2015 instructional and school-related personnel (SRP) contracts (89 percent approval for the Instructional unit and 90 percent for the SRP unit) last Thursday.  Sixty-six percent of each bargaining unit cast ballots.

“I am happy that we have been able to provide employees with a meaningful raise for the second consecutive year, while also coming to resolution on eliminating smoking in our facilities and closing the district’s early retirement program to new retirees,” said Superintendent Kurt Browning.

The contracts include:
1. An overall salary increase worth $6,409,463.40 for instructional employees, what amounts to an average 3 percent raise to instructional salaries. Half of this amount will be spent for the grandfathered pay plan (for professional services contract and continuing contract teachers who elect not to opt into the performance pay plan) and the performance pay plan required by law.  The other half of this amount – the maximum allowed under the law – will be used to provide a 1 ½ percent cost of living increase to all instructional employees. School related personnel also will receive an overall salary increase of 3 percent, totaling approximately $1,713,582.50.
2. Closing the district’s Early Retirement Program to new entrants, effective June 30, 2018.
3. Ending smoking on all district property, effective July 1, 2016.
4. Establishing a Compensation Task Force to discuss mutually agreed upon issues and proposed changes to compensation procedures, including selection of one of the following options for instructional paychecks: 20 paychecks to be paid during the 10 month teacher work year with five checks paid on the last teacher work day and one check two weeks later, or 26 equal paychecks to be paid every two weeks year round, including the summer months.
5. Providing 150 minutes of uninterrupted planning time to teachers – an increase from the 100 minutes currently provided by the contract.
6. The district covering a combined $1,436,779 worth of increased Florida Retirement System contributions for all employees.
7. The district covering a combined $1,175,000 for increases to employee health insurance programs for the 2015 calendar year.

All together, the district is providing almost $12 million of new funding toward employee compensation and benefits for the 2014-2015 school year.

Propane Buses to Hit the Road

The Pasco County School District has a new propane Bus Fleet.  Cleaner, Greener, and Sleek; these new busses work towards a more environmentally sustainable world.

Click here to watch a short video about the new busses.

Friday, January 16, 2015

J.W. Mitchell High to Offer AP Capstone Program

Who:  J.W. Mitchell High School students

What:  The Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone Program

When:  The beginning of the 2015-16 School Year

Where:  J.W. Mitchell High School, 2323 Little Rd., in New Port Richey

Why:  This will be the District School Board of Pasco County’s first implementation of the recently developed College Board AP Capstone program.

How:  AP Capstone provides students with an opportunity to engage in the rigorous scholarly practice of the core academic skills necessary for successful college completion. Administrators have selected Mrs. Beth Seletos, Mitchell’s Teacher of the Year and a District Teacher of the Year finalist, to teach the AP Capstone Seminar next year. It is built on the foundation of two courses, AP Seminar and AP Research, and is designed to complement and enhance the in-depth, discipline- specific study provided through AP courses. It cultivates curious, independent, and collaborative scholars and prepares them to make logical, evidence-based decisions. Administrators have selected Mrs. Beth Seletos, Mitchell’s Teacher of the Year and a District Teacher of the Year finalist, to teach the AP Capstone Seminar next year. For more information, contact Darrell Huling, Senior Supervisor in the Office for Teaching & Learning, at, or Jill Cortier, Assistant Principal at J.W. Mitchell High School, at


Linda Cobbe or Spencer Pylant

Communications & Government Relations

(813)794-2717, (813)361-8349 or (813)794-2259, (813)388-0020

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