Kurt S. Browning, Superintendent of Schools
June 21, 2018

Kurt S. Browning, Superintendent of Schools

June 21, 2018

Kurt S. Browning, Superintendent of Schools

June 21, 2018

Kurt S. Browning, Superintendent of Schools

June 21, 2018

Superintendent's Message

Preparing for the Worst; Hoping for the Best

As I’m sure you know, the Florida Legislature passed a law this year to require an armed individual in every school.  We already have school resource officers in middle and high schools, but we needed to add armed security in all elementary schools.  We chose to create a position known as School Safety Guard, and we advertised the position in May.

After a couple days of advertising, we received 125 applications.  More than half of those applicants were highly qualified, with extensive backgrounds in law enforcement, the military, Homeland Security, and other security professions.  We are hiring 53, and they are currently undergoing 132 hours of training with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office (the same training as middle and high school SROs complete).  They also have to pass physical and psychological exams, as well as drug screening.

To oversee the safety guards and our overall safety programs, we hired Chris Stowe as our School Safety and Security Director.  Lt. Troy Fergueson will still supervise the SROs, and the two will work together to keep schools safe.

In addition to hiring these safety and security professionals, we are conducting school safety assessments and working with community partners to enhance mental health services in our schools. 

These steps, in addition to the Active Threat Plan training and drills we implemented at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, will give our students and staff a fighting chance if the unthinkable were to happen in one of our schools.  I wish we didn’t have to worry about guards, door locks, target hardening, and how to increase our chances of surviving a school shooting, but this is our reality.  We will prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.

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District Summer Hours

In line with its continuous energy conservation efforts, the District will once again be operating on a four-day work schedule for several weeks during the summer.  Click here for important summer work schedule information, including extended hours, Independence Day week, and the Friday dates that the District will be closed for business.


Center for Voter Information Targets Pasco Voters with Misleading Mailing

Supervisor of Elections, Brian E. Corley warns pasco voters of a potentially misleading mailing from the Center for Voter Information (CVI), a Washington, DC based organization.  The organization has in the past used outdated and often incorrect data to mail pre-filled Florida voter registration applications to voters who are already registered, deceased family members, under-age children and pets.  The Center for Voter Information is affiliated with the Voter Participation Center, and both organizations have launched similar campaigns in Pasco in the past.  The mailings notoriously prompt phone calls from confused voters who mistakenly believe the mailing is coming from the Supervisor of Elections' Office.  For more information click here.

Voters should direct their questions, complaints, and concerns about the mailing directly to the CVI at 202-766-6575.  For information regarding voter registration, voters should contact the Supervisor of Elections' Office by calling 800-851-8754 or visit their website.


Mindful 30 Summer Schedule and Signup

Mindful 30 sessions are going to be held weekly this summer, beginning June 21.  Patty Jackson, MSW/LYT continues to be the class instructor and has really enjoyed working with our staff.  Likewise, PCS staff that have participated have enjoyed the experience and knowledge Patty provides.  Come check it out for yourself this summer, and bring a colleague!  Sign up for any or all of the sessions by clicking here.

New Health and Wellness Incentive Option

Effective June 1, 2018, employees covered under the district’s group medical plan will have a new Health and Wellness Incentive (HWI) option to choose from.  Participants of the HWI program who have not redeemed their incentives during the first quarter may now choose from the YMCA membership buy-up option.  Click here for additional information about the buy-up option.  If you are already a member of the YMCA, you may still be eligible to take advantage of this option.  Click here for more information.


Onsite Mammography Screenings

For your convenience, the district has teamed up with Tampa Bay Mobile Mammography to offer onsite 3D mammography screening.  Beginning next school year, Tampa Bay Mobile Mammography will visit all schools and worksites to provide onsite services.  Additional information and the schedule for onsite mammography services will be available for download on the Health and Wellness website in August 2018.


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Together We Learn 2018

The Office for Leading and Learning is pleased to announce that the Together We Learn 2018 Session Program is now available to view by clicking here.  You can use the session program to preview the schedule and review session descriptions.  Registration for the sessions offered during Together We Learn will be available in myPGS starting July 2.  An email will be sent to all Pasco staff with directions for registration on July 2.

This year, Together We Learn is taking place at Cypress Creek Middle High School from Monday, July 30, through Wednesday August 1, and at the district office on Thursday, August 2.  If you are planning on attending any of the days of Together We Learn, please click here to RSVP.


Advance Your Career with an Online Degree or Certificate from Drexel University

Hear from School of Education representatives, ask questions, and find out more about online learning by joining us for a School of Education Online open house on Wednesday, July 11, at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.  The School of Education offers more than 30 online bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and certificate programs. Classes are designed for working professionals and teachers—students can learn online when it fits in their schedules.  Click here to register.


Professional Development Teacher Training with VEX IQ Robotics

This program features two different programs: Beginning IQ and Intermediate/Advanced IQ. Learn the basics of Robot C Programming, Robot building, and programming a VEX IQ robot — and learn how to integrate these topics into your curriculum and lesson plans.

Teachers can apply to be considered for this exciting professional development opportunity designed for K-12 educators by attending the Professional Development Teacher Training with VEX IQ Robotics, July 23-26, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at USF. For more information about curriculum and program registration, contact Dr. Stephanie Holmquist Johnson via email or by phone at 813-974-6670.


Florida Southern College - Information Sessions

Join Florida Southern College at one of their information sessions. Attendees will learn about bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degree programs in education. Click here for more information.

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School Spotlight


Zephyrhills High School Graduation, video by Alissa Nova, WCHS


Student Spotlight

Bertell Butler, a Gulf Middle School 8th grade student, was awarded the prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award from the National Junior Honor Society. Bertell was the only Pasco County Middle School student to have this esteemed reward bestowed upon him and will be receiving a $500 scholarship to be used towards his college education.

Staff in the Spotlight

Christine Barrett, reading teacher, Hudson High School. Click here to learn more.


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District to Host Pasco Community Job Fair

Pasco County Schools is partnering with county agencies to host a job fair from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 28, at Cypress Creek Middle/High School, 8701 Old Pasco Road, Wesley Chapel.

Representatives from the school district and several schools; Pasco Sheriff’s Office; and Pasco County government, clerk of court, emergency services (911), property appraiser, supervisor of elections, and tax collector will be present to talk to job applicants.  Following is a sampling of available positions:

  • 911 Dispatcher
  • Accounting/Finance
  • Bus Drivers/Assistants
  • Clerical/Administrative Support
  • Food Services
  • Information Services
  • Instructional/Childcare
  • Law Enforcement/Corrections
  • Maintenance/Skilled Trades

For more information, click here.


Rays Salute to Service

Tickets are now available for Rays Salute to Service, presented by Suncoast Credit Union!  Complimentary tickets are now available for the games on Monday, June 25 at 7:10 p.m., when the Rays take on the Washington Nationals, and Thursday, June 28 at 7:10 p.m., when the Rays square off against the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros! Licensed K-12 teachers can receive two (2) complimentary tickets for each of these games, courtesy of Suncoast Credit Union. Click here to reserve tickets.

In addition to this offer, teachers can purchase up to four (4) $15 tickets (save up to 75%!) to the following game, courtesy of Suncoast Credit Union:
Saturday, June 30, vs. Houston Astros - Zubaz T-shirt, presented by FOX Sports Sun, to all fans while supplies last. Click here to purchase.


Pasco County Historical Society Meets

The next meeting of the Pasco County Historical Society will occur on Friday, July 20, at 7 p.m., at the Pioneer Florida Museum & Village at 15602 Pioneer Road, Dade City, in the Richard F. Lockey room of the main museum building.  The speaker, Jeff Miller, will present "Pasco County from the 1800s to Today".  Jeff will answer questions throughout his presentation and lead a discussion of the origins of the names of the towns appearing on the maps that is sure to offer insights and information. He has worked more than 20 years on an extensive website devoted to the history of Pasco County.  For more information, click here.

Sprint Sizzlin' Savings

Don't miss out on great savings and discounts this Saturday, June 23, at the Sprint Works event.  If you are a current Sprint customer, you can add the discount to your account by clicking here.  You will be prompted to enter your information and special Corp ID: GDSFL_ZZZ.  Click here to find the closest Sprint location.


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Ms. Ganci, I am writing to give credit where credit is due. I am a former Pasco County Schools Employee (2013-2016) and recently needed a VOE form completed for my new job in Colorado. I was fortunate enough to get in touch with April Kalloch and she could not have been more helpful and accommodating. She took care of my request quickly, communicated with me throughout the entire process, and followed up at the end. I could not have been more impressed! We don't give out compliments for good work nearly enough these days, and I had to take the time to give credit where credit is due. Thanks to you and April! - Sincerly, Jason Dobrow


Mrs. Pejot, I wanted to take a moment and let you know how wonderful it has been to work with your Fingerprinting team and especially Kristen Goodman!  From the friendly communication to the speedy response time, every interaction has been superior.  Kristen has made my job a breeze and I am extremely thankful.  I Hope you all have a wonderful summer, and I am looking forward to working with the team again next year! - Cindy Szappan


Superintendent Browning, I would like to recognize the exceptional support we received from several district staff during our FSA/EOC administration this year.  We believe that is important to continue with “normal school” while certain groups are testing, and with 500+ students at each grade level, it takes an army to make this happen.  I reached out to Zack Stoutimore, Anita Alexander, Sarah Apsey, Kim Newberry, Joy Salerno, Mike Macchiarola, Tom Saxton, Heather Cornoa, and Lesley Wilson to ask for help, and within minutes of my email they each individually responded that they would come administer tests.  Each of these people came out to assist on multiple days, and many of them stayed all day when we needed them.  JLMS appreciates their willingness to arrange their schedules to help us out, and I just wanted you to know how supportive they were!!  Kudos to their excellent service to schools! - Jill Briscoe, Assistant Principal, Dr. John Long Middle School


Superintendent Browning, I am writing this letter to bring awareness to the exceptional instruction and overwhelming care my autistic son received from some of your assets at Wiregrass Elementary School

My son, Johnny Martin, was in the care of Chandra Henry and her support team. Having Autism, Johnny struggled to express himself. Simple tasks such as asking for help when he was stuck or communication with his peers were extremely difficult for him. As you can imagine, this made for some significant challenges for his teacher(s). I am happy to report that they were not only up for the challenge but accelerated his academia and social skills dramatically.

While in their care Johnny was introduced to the SAAGE Program. This program, by the  observations and suggestions of Krystal McFee, was a tremendous help. Krystal was able to give Chandra and her team some simple ideas that they collectively ran with. Krystal was thoroughly impressed by how engaged and visionary Chandra and her team were. It is their care, charisma, and attentiveness that I wanted to point out. There are so many things that we can teach but you cannot teach someone to  care. I am of the understanding that teachers choose this profession to make a difference. This team truly made a difference.

Johnny is starting middle school this coming year. Although it is extremely scary to think about the challenges we will encounter, I can rest a lot easier knowing how well he has been prepared for the transition. I simply could not imagine him starting middle school without having all of the wonderful interaction he was provided this year.

Please take the time to recognize these amazing assets as they have changed my son's life. - Respectfully, Jim Martin


Superintendent Browning, I would like to let you know that Patricia L. Graham, Certification Specialist, Human Resources and Educator Quality, has been extremely friendly and helpful in my recertification, especially with the FLDOE application and website. 

It means a lot to be treated as a valued educator with genuine empathy and compassion. - Sincerely, Hope C. Ross


Mr. Fox, Last week, I picked up a used golf cart we purchased at the school district's surplus store.  When I arrived with a trailer, Tony Bartenope was outside overseeing the loading of another golf cart by a fork lift driver.  My cart had two flat tires, so before I took possession of it, Tony had one of his employees retrieve a 4-way tire iron, and then he removed the old tires and replaced them with tires off another cart - out in the blazing sun. 

I just want to recognize Tony for going the extra mile for me.  He deserves recognition for this notable customer service. - Sincerely, Fraser Cobbe


Principal Joens, You have done such an excellent job at Gulf Middle School in bringing the school up to higher standards.  We in the community are so proud of all that you do for the students.

It was an honor to be able to furnish the pizza for the band and choir after their  performance. My wife was a student there many years  ago so it holds a special place in my heart.  Keep up the good work and please let me know if there is anything I can do for the school in the future. - Sincerely, Thomas B. Dobies, Dobies Funeral Home, Inc.


Superintendent Browning, As we wrap up the first week of School Safety Guard training, I wanted to let you know all of the people who have made it possible to thoroughly vet and hire 53 School Safety Guards in only a few weeks. First, I’d like to thank Lori Perreault and Elena Merritt and their team in HREQ who screened candidates (with help from Peggy Facemire and Ginny Gude), planned and coordinated three interview events, and kept everything organized.

I would also like to thank the following staff members who helped with School Safety Guard interviews:

Kara Abbatello
Tammy Berryhill 
Tracy Bonnett
Darrell Clark
Linda Cobbe
Amy Denney-Haskedakes
Andy Dunn
Jessica Felice
JoAnne Glenn
Mary Grey
Trudy Hartman
Marcy Hetzler-Nettles
Monica Ilse
Richard Maclemale
Glennda McCallister
Vanessa Moon
Melissa Musselwhite
Kim Newberry
Angela Pettry
Kim Poe
Tammy Rabon
Pio Rizzo
Jessica Rusha
Billie Sass
Kathy Scalise
Dave Scanga
Stephanie Shaw-Montalvo
Kevin Shibley
Debbie Smith
Rob Strasser
Olga Swinson
Susan Thomas
Erika Tonello
Diamela Vergne
Jeannine Welch
Lori Wiggins
Colleen Wilkinson

In addition to the Pasco County Schools team, I am sending a thank you to Sheriff Nocco for all of the help from Lt. Fergueson, the training team led by Chief George McDonald, Captain Jared Hill, Sergeant Rich Jones, and Training Supervisor Chris Squitieri, in addition to all of the SROs who interviewed with us. It is particularly impressive that we had a Sheriff’s Office employee in every interview we did for School Safety Guard - over 100 interviews! Last but not least, Nicole Westmoreland and the Purchasing team, John Simon and the OTIS team, Melissa Musselwhite and the SSPS team, Kathy Scalise and the ER team, and Lea Mitchell and the OLL team have been a great support this week. - Thank you, Betsy Kuhn

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School Matters is Superintendent Browning’s weekly newsletter to employees and is published by the Communications and Government Relations Department. It is an employee’s one-stop source for District news, events, and instructional videos.
Pasco County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex/gender, religion, national origin, marital status, disability, age or genetic information in its educational programs, services or activities, or in its hiring and employment practices. (read more)