May 18, 2017

May 18, 2017

May 18, 2017

May 18, 2017

Superintendent's Message

House Bill 7069 and the Education Budget

Much has been said about House Bill 7069 (Best and Brightest Teachers and Principals) and this year's state budget proposal. In fact, the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS), the Florida School Boards Association (FSBA), the Florida Association of School Administrators (FASA), and the Florida Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) have requested a veto from Governor Rick Scott. If you're not familiar with House Bill 7069, it is a massive, 278-page bill that was revealed on the last regularly scheduled day of session. It only passed by one vote in the Senate, after both chambers agreed to extend session three more days. There are good policies in this bill; policies that our district advocated for, such as paper/pencil testing and the elimination of the Algebra II end-of-course (EOC) exam. However, the House had this language in House Bill 549 and chose to kill it by not giving it time on the floor to be heard. Instead, the Senate president and House speaker privately negotiated and combined more than 50 education bills into one comprehensive package that could not be amended. This package also included some bad policy precedents for school districts. House Bill 7069 mandates districts to share their locally generated capital outlay with charter schools, but does not restore the 0.5 mills that the Legislature removed during the Great Recession. I would have supported this measure if it allowed districts to generate additional capital funding, but I cannot support this provision as passed by the Legislature. Lastly, the bill will provide bonuses of up to $800 to effectively rated teachers, $1,200 to highly-effective teachers, and $6,000 to Best and Brightest teachers, for the next three years. While this provision sounds good on the surface, it is important to remember that:

  1. As we all have learned as customers, "up to" never guarantees the number that follows it.
  2. If more people qualify than there are funds available, the bonus award will be reduced.
  3. A raise is better than a bonus.
  4. This bonus funding could disappear next year: the Legislature cannot require future legislatures to spend certain amounts of funds.

In addition to House Bill 7069, the education budget, Senate Bill 2500, is an affront to Florida's public education system, and inflicts a devastating impact. This year's budget increases the Florida Education Finance Program by 0.34%, but cuts the Base Student Allocation by about $27 per student. Pasco will receive a paltry $3.10 per student increase, and the reason we saw this increase in funding is because of the growing number of students attending our schools. With this year's budget, the Legislature effectively:

  • Cut Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funding by $25 million
  • Prohibited school districts from capturing new Required Local Effort (RLE) revenue, valued at approximately $514 million statewide
  • Increased our Florida Retirement System contribution rates
  • Spent approximately $140 million to attempt to incentivize out-of-state charter corporations to come to Florida
  • Refused to restore our district's ability to generate 2.0 mills locally
  • Forces Pasco County Schools to cut $8.7 million dollars

Together, the education budget and House Bill 7069 cast a chilling effect on Pasco County Schools, if signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. It is my hope that he helps our teachers, students, and families by vetoing both provisions. If you would like to share your thoughts with the governor on these, or other issues, click here.


Finish Strong

As the 2016-2017 school year is coming to a close, I would like to encourage our students and employees to finish strong. Our employee's efforts this year have made a substantial impact on our community, and I know that this generation of students is better for it. Take time this week to encourage those around you, and help others where you can. Thank you for providing a world-class education to our students. 



CTE Student of the Year

The Office of Career and Technical Education would like to recognize Pasco High School senior Kaleigh Heather for her outstanding achievement both in and out of the classroom.  Her accomplishments and leadership throughout her career in the PHS Agriculture program of study have been nothing short of phenomenal. So well-rounded within her school’s FFA with being a vital team member in judging everything from livestock to dairy from horses to meats, with an understanding of veterinary assisting to aquaculture to agriculture sales. Additionally, being experienced and capable of communicating that idea is what sets Kayleigh apart from the rest with her with strong desire to succeed in varsity sports (softball, volleyball, weightlifting and tennis - captain of many of those teams too!). She also serves as Science Club president and is a member of Envirothon Club and National Junior Honor Society.  This certainly is a bright young lady that has a wonderful future ahead of her! The Office of CTE is so very honored to have Kaleigh as our CTE SOY for the 2016-17 school year.


Family and Community Engagement Award

Each year our district selects one elementary and one secondary school that demonstrates exemplary practices in the area of family and community engagement. There are two schools that have gone above and beyond to provide resources to their school community. These award winners have also been entered into the National PTA-sponsored Florida Department of Education Family andCommunity Engagement contest. Our elementary school award recipient is Mittye P. Locke for Locke’s Closet and Resource Center.  “Locke’s Closet” provided an opportunity for school and community families to shop for brand new clothes at no cost. Our Secondary school award recipient is Gulf Middle for their ESOL parent involvement program. This program provides opportunities for Gulf Middle’s ELL families to come and learn about the school, various strategies to help their students be successful in school and how to connect with community resources.


FHSAA State Championship Winners

Congratulations to our FHSAA state champions:

  • Gulf High School: Boy’s Swimming Individual Champion
    • Manden Smith, senior
      • 50m Freestyle
      • 100m Freestyle
  • Land O' Lakes High School
    • Wrestling Individual Champion
      • Jacob Conrad, sophomore
        • 138 lb. weight class
    • Swimming Individual Champion
      • Jabari Ramsey, junior
        • 100m Breaststroke
  • River Ridge High School
    • Girl’s Weightlifting Team Champions:
      • Katelyn Kirves, sophomore
      • Crystal “Cookie” Gwinn, junior
      • Alisha Dudeck, junior
      • Callista Durrett, senior
      • Sydney Hesterhagen, senior
    • Individual State Champions:
      • Crystal “Cookie” Gwinn, junior
      • Alisha Dudeck, junior
      • Callista Durrett, senior


River Ridge High School Royal Robotics Team

The River Ridge High School robotics team is in its second year, and has qualified for the world championships in both years of existence.  This year, Royal Robotics was in the Newton division, one of the most difficult divisions at the championship, including four previous world champions. The team won their quarterfinals match-up, but was eliminated in a close 1-2 loss in the semi-finals. Despite the loss, Royal Robotics was awarded the creativity award for their robot's flexible gear handling mechanisms and autonomous routines. This is the third engineering award the team has earned this season.  Other awards include the Industrial Design Award at the Lone Star North Regional (The Woodlands, TX), and the Excellence in Engineering award at the Rocket City Regional (Huntsville, AL), which is three of the five available engineering awards in just one season. These students, pictured left to right, are Dwight Howard, Kevin Hudak, Gavin Dearsman, Jasmine Elovich, and Sam McAmis, Team Sponsor


Teen Trendsetter Mentor Excellence in Leadership and Service Award

Teen Trendsetters is a program sponsored through a grant from the Barbara Bush Foundation. This program pairs teens from our secondary schools with elementary students in primary grades who struggle in reading. These teens serve as mentors and meet 1 hour per week to work through specific reading lessons and activities. The Barbara Bush Foundation provides all of the high quality reading materials for the lessons as well as books for students to take home. Our district has six school partnerships for a total of 12 schools participating in this program. The following students have been awarded the Teen Trendsetters' Excellence in Leadership Service Award:

  • Kaitlyn Day, Zephyrhills High School
  • Karlee Bedson, River Ridge High School
  • Michaela Hanson, Ridgewood High School
  • Tito Antonio Tejada, Chasco Middle School
  • Dakota Delong, Hudson High School
  • Alyssa McKenzie, Hudson High School
  • Olivia Walters, Pasco Middle School


Congressman Gus Bilirakis's Teachers of the Year

Diane Bulter receives her Teacher of the Year award from Congressman Gus Bilirakis.


Congressman Gus Bilirakis recently awarded several Pasco educators with his annual teacher of the year awards. Here are this year's recipients:

  • Diane Butler, Special Needs K-3, Connerton Elementary School
  • Joshua Aguiar, AP Psychology, Sunlake High School
  • David Berger, AP English, Land O' Lakes High School
  • Jeffrey Beson, Jr., English/Wrestling Coach, Wesley Chapel High School
  • Dr. Jennifer O’Connor, AP World History, Land O' Lakes High School
  • Tina Stavrou-Klem, K-12 Social Studies Senior Instructional Specialist, District Office Complex


2nd Annual Dole Fruitapalooza Poster Contest

Congratulations to Kaden Horvath, from Cypress Elementary School, for winning the 2nd Annual Dole Fruitapalooza Poster Contest grand prize! He wins an iPad mini and a plaque. Additionally, his art room wins $1,000 and his cafeteria won 10 cases of Dole fruit bowls. His artwork is displayed to the left of this column.




American Heart Association Top 3 School Fundraisers

Jump Rope for Heart

  • First Place: Seven Oaks Elementary School
    • $7,282
    • Principal: Shirley Ray
    • Event Coordinator: Mike Nellany
  • Second Place: Sunray Elementary School
    • $4,187
    • Principal: Beth Hinton
    • Event Coordinators: Barbara Dodson and Scott Carlson
  • Third Place: Watergrass Elementary School
    • $3,860
    • Principal: Scott Mitchell
    • Event Coordinators: Jessica Snyder and John Andrew LeClair
  • Honorable Mention
    • Chasco Elementary School
    • Gulf Trace Elementary School
    • Lake Myrtle Elementary School
    • Oakstead Elementary School
    • Sand Pine Elementary School


National Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and each of us has the power to foster progress in this area.  We have learned much about mental illness and addiction in the recent past, but in regards to stigma, we still have work to do. Stigma often results in isolation, which is a tremendous barrier to improvement for someone struggling with mental health or addiction issues.  Each of us can help reduce stigma by becoming more informed and by reaching out.  Please click here to find some language you can employ to reach out to someone who may be struggling.  If you’ve been experiencing mental health, alcohol or substance use stressors and are ready to reach out for help, please contact your Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-624-5544 for New Directions Behavioral Health, or dial 813-794-2366 to reach EAP Clinical Coordinator Scott Leu.


Attention All Employees

Employees Impacted by Summer Hours

Click here for the 2017 Summer Hours memo that includes dates and other important information about working extended hours, summer dress, and the week of July 4. If you are not impacted by summer hours, please disregard.


Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day

District employees who wish to bring their school-aged son or daughter to work with them may do so on Monday, May 22.  Employees must prearrange their children’s absences with their principals and teachers if they plan to participate on May 22. We hope this helps you as you work with parents to meet their needs while assuring that your schools are free from disruptions during these important tests.


Tampa Rays Pasco Spirit Day

The Tampa Rays are celebrating Pasco County Schools on Sunday, June 11, at 1:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field, in St. Petersburg. The deadline to order tickets is Thursday, June 11, and the top-selling elementary school receives a visit to their school from Raymond and the Ray Team during the 2017 calendar year. Click here for more information, and here for ticket information.


Employee Opportunities

Florida Southern College (FSC) Teacher Courses and Information Sessions

  • Teaching Students with Disabilities Renewal Course

​FSC offers “Teaching Students with Disabilities” renewal course. Florida professional certificate holders can satisfy this certification requirement by taking EDU 2210 – Foundations of Special Education online. Please click here to view the schedule.

  • Undergraduate and Graduate Programs Information Sessions

The following are upcoming progam information sessions:

  • Thursday, June 1, at 6:00 p.m.  – Grillsmith Restaurant at Lakeside Village, Lakeland, FL
  • Saturday, June 17, at 10:00 a.m. – Becker Business Building, Florida Southern College Campus, Lakeland, FL

Click here to register and learn more. If you have questions, please contact Kelly Curtis.


Title I Committee of Practitioners Application

The Florida Department of Education is recruiting new members for the Title I Committee of Practitioners (COP). The membership includes: public school principals, teachers, school leaders, local educational agency representatives, administrators, specialized instructional support personnel, paraprofessionals, charter agencies, charter school leaders, career and technical educators, private school representatives, parents and members of local school boards. The appointees will advise the department on carrying out its responsibilities for implementing the provisions of Title I. Click here to learn more about the committee.


Pasco County Government



Superintendent Browning, I’m contacting you to give an outstanding compliment on Elaine Grunewald, she was so helpful regarding an education verification request I needed completed. She was so professional and went over and beyond to have this task completed. I’m sure Ms. Grunewald is extremely busy but she still provided excellent customer service! Thank you all so much! -Camil Sims

Superintendent Browning, the ELA team would like to send a huge thank you to Rick D’Onofrio, Daniel Gentry, and the entire team at The Center for the Arts at River Ridge for their time and commitment to our students at our third annual TEDxPascoCountySchools event.  Not only did they provide sound, stage, and technical support for our team and students, they took extra time to help students feel comfortable with the stage and their microphones.  Their professionalism and enthusiasm made the day an experience to remember for all of our students, their families, and friends. We would also like to thank Andy Dunn and Anna Marquez from the Communications Department for dedicating their Saturday to documenting student speeches and promoting the event.  Their photography and videography will be shared with schools, parents, and the wider TED community.  We are so lucky to have them capturing these important events and memories for our students and families. Finally, we would like to recognize the following schools for participating in TEDxPascoCountySchools and inspiring us all to Take A Stand. Elementary Schools: Anclote, Calusa, Centennial, Chasco, Chester W. Taylor, Cotee River, Cypress, Deer Park, Double Branch, Fox Hollow, Gulf Trace, Gulfside, Hudson, James M. Marlowe, Lacoochee, Lake Myrtle, Longleaf, Mittye P. Locke, Moon Lake, New River, Northwest, Oakstead, Odessa, Pasco, Pine View, Quail Hollow, Richey, Rodney B. Cox, San Antonio, Sanders Memorial, Schrader, Seven Oaks, Seven Springs, Shady Hills, Sunray, Trinity Oaks, Veterans, Watergrass, Wesley Chapel, West Zephyrhills, Wiregrass, and Woodland. Middle Schools: Bayonet Point, Centennial, Chasco, Crews Lake, Gulf, Hudson, Dr. John Long, Pasco eSchool, Pasco, Paul R. Smith, Pine View, Raymond B. Stewart, River Ridge, and Charles S. Rushe. High Schools: Anclote, Dayspring Academy, Gulf, Hudson, Land O’ Lakes, James W. Mitchell, Pasco eSchool, Pasco, River Ridge, Wesley Chapel, and Wiregrass Ranch. -Rachel Hatten, Senior Instructional Specialist, Office for Teaching and Learning

Superintendent Browning, On Friday May 4, 2017 I met with Sandra Billett and Melenie in retirement services.  Because I have been on family leave and also approved leave from my job at Woodland Elementary I had some irregularities when it came time to retire. My principal Ms. Butcher and assistant principal Ms. Craig have both been so helpful and understanding.  I couldn’t have survived without the both of them.  Because of my unusual work schedule, it caused some difficulty on when or if I qualified for Florida Pension Plan.  I want you to know that Sandra and Melenie both worked with their supervisor until it was worked out and I did qualify.  It took them almost one hour  to  figure everything out and I was so relieved when they came back to me.  I feel that they went out of their way to help me and make sure I received the money due me. We are so fortunate to have  both of them working for our school board.  I can’t praise them enough for what they did.  This past year has been very hard both mentally and physically on me they certainly helped me feel fantastic this week. -Kathe Patrick, Former Primary Support Facilitator, Woodland Elementary

Superintendent Browning, I would like to recognize Joe Jackson, Justin Oney, Wyatt Gude and Joshua Nelson for conducting a seamless conversion of our PLACE Program’s student and financial data.  This move required that the team prepare all site computers, secure data and  work collaboratively with the Procare support team late Thursday evening.  They moved all of the family attendance and accounting records for our 41 sites from our internal district servers to a cloud based hosting service.  This upgrade was completed without any down time for the program staff or families and was done without so much as a bump in the data transfer.  Great Job to the PLACE/OTIS Tech Team! -Mary Grey, PLACE Director

Events and Kudos sections are copied verbatim from their submission, with minimal, if any, alteration.

Abby Kennedy speaks at the dedication of the Pasco Sheriff's Office forensic field facility named in honor of Adam Kennedy.

Transportation South - CNG Fast-Fill Station Grand Opening

Student Spotlight

Jonatan Ortiz

Staff Spotlight

Jennifer Ball
Northwest Region Resolution Specialist
Student Support Programs and Services

Click here to read her interview.



MyArt/Works is a Pasco County Schools art specialists showcase. The exhibit is Thursday, May 4 through Saturday, May 20, at the Center for the Arts at Wesley Chapel, and the closing reception is Saturday, May 20, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Please come out and support these talented teachers! Click here to learn more.


#PascoTogether Summer Learning

There are three summer learning opportunities on the horizon:

  • Together We Lead
  • Together We Stand
  • Together We Learn

Click here for more information.


Special Olympics Craft Show

Special Olympics Florida - Pasco County is hosting a Holiday Arts and Crafts Festival and is looking for participants. It will be held on Saturday, December 9 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at 14744 Nottingham Trail, in Hudson. Click here to learn more.

Important Dates


  • 1-31: National Mental Health Awareness Month
  • 25-28: Graduation
  • 26: Students' Last Day
  • 29: Memorial Day - Closed
  • 30-31: Teacher Planning Days