Kurt S. Browning, Superintendent of Schools
September 21, 2017

Kurt S. Browning, Superintendent of Schools

September 21, 2017

Kurt S. Browning, Superintendent of Schools

September 21, 2017

Kurt S. Browning, Superintendent of Schools

September 21, 2017

Superintendent's Message

Schedules Impacted by Irma

After receiving confirmation from the Florida commissioner of education that the state is forgiving the two days the governor canceled school for Hurricane Irma, we were able to look at all our school schedules and determine whether we can make up the other four hurricane days without cancelling planned days off.  The good news is that we will not have school any day during Thanksgiving week.  Some schools are adjusting their bell schedules to add additional student contact minutes for the rest of the year.  Most schools had enough student contact time built into their schedules to meet statutory requirements and do not have to make any adjustments.  Those schools that are adding time to class schedules are doing so by having shorter passing time between classes, reducing the length of home room, or starting earlier or dismissing later.  None of these changes take any teacher below the contractual minimums for weekly planning time, daily planning periods, or daily lunch time.  No school will change their start or end time by more than five minutes except for Marchman Technical College, and only a total of 11 schools had to make any adjustments.  Individual schools will notify their students, teachers and staff of their adjusted bell schedule.



Individual and Household Assistance Available

After working closely with FEMA, Rep. Gus Bilirakis announced that Pasco County has been added to the list of counties that will receive Individual Assistance (IA) from FEMA. Residents can now make claims for individual assistance through FEMA by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362.



Additional Hurricane Relief Resources

Feeding Tampa Bay Emergency Response Distribution Sites

Open through Saturday, September 23

Agency Address Next Distribution
Hopeville 1436 County Line Rd., in Hudson Saturday, September 23, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Christian Secure Ministries 5609 US Hwy 19, in New Port Richey Saturday, September 23, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Click here to learn more about Feeding Tampa Bay.


U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education has significantly expanded its Hurricane Help web site.  Originally created in response to Hurricane Harvey, the site now has a page with Hurricane Irma information and a page with general disaster information in both English and Spanish.  The Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma pages have links to federal resources, including the latest information from the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), government-wide activities related to each of the hurricanes (coordinated by the General Services Administration), and other information for those impacted by the storms.  Each of the pages also provides specific resources related to education.  All of these pages are continually updated, so users are urged to regularly check for the latest information.


Donations Needed for Disaster Relief

Pasco County Government and Metropolitan Ministries are accepting donations to assist those affected by Hurricane Irma.  Tens of thousands of our neighbors have been affected by the storm resulting in families being temporarily homeless or in need of the basic necessities.  Countless others have decided to stay in their homes despite the damage, but are still in need. Click here for a printable flyer of most-needed items.


Debris Pickup

Get rid of Irma debris, and register using MyPasco App. Pasco County will begin picking up debris September 18. Click here to learn more, and here for the county's flyer.


Financial Fitness Group

Pasco County Schools has partnered with Financial Fitness group to offer all employees the Financial Fitness program! The Financial Fitness Program is an educational program that includes a financial fitness checkup, financial fitness academy, and financial fitness coach.

All employees are eligible to participate and will have access to a financial fitness coach for 30 days at no cost between September 1, and December 31. Participating employees may:

  • Complete an initial check-up through the financial fitness checkup
  • Access over 80 tutorials through the financial fitness academy
  • Access a personal coach free for 30 days through the financial fitness coach

Tutorials cover information from various topics, including:

  • Personal finance
  • Saving and investing
  • Basics

Covered employees who participate in the financial fitness academy may also earn rewards through the district’s Health and Wellness Incentive (HWI) Program! Click here or visit www.PascoGoHealthy.net to learn more.


2018 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

This year, the 23rd annual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards are searching for Florida's top youth volunteers. Prudential will be soliciting applications from 5th-12th grade students, and will announce the winners on February 6. Winning students will be brought to Washington April 28, through May 1, for four days of special recognition events, along with the top two applicants from every other state and the District of Columbia. Here is more information:

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, the nation's largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service, has honored more than 120,000 youth volunteers over the past 22 years at the local, state and national level.

Tweets by @pascoschools

Teacher Spotlight

Emily Buckler

3rd Grade, West Zephyrhills Elementary School


Student Spotlight

Dylan Hoch and Keegan Kiedaisch
10th grade, Sunlake High School

Click here to learn more.


Out of the Darkness Community Walk

Last week was Suicide Prevention Week, and September is Suicide Prevention Month. This year's Walk to Fight Suicide will take place on Saturday October 28, at Sims Park, on Grand Boulevard and Bank Street, in New Port Richey. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m., and the walk is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, please contact Marie Kelley at 205-370-3908, or view their flyer. Click here to register.


Rescheduled: The Cinderella Project

The Cinderella Project of Pasco County will provide new and gently used dresses and shoes to indigent young ladies in time for this year’s homecoming festivities. The garments will be available in a boutique setting, and signs will be posted on the two school campuses to provide directions to their respective boutiques:

  • Gulf High School - 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, September 25, and Tuesday, September 26
  • Fivay High School2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday, September 27, and Thursday, September 28

To learn more about The Cinderella Project of Pasco County, where to donate clothing, and how to make cash donations, visit the organization’s Facebook page at The Cinderella_Project Pasco County or contact Julie Rockwell at (727) 372-2530. Click here for more information.


National Guard to Visit Hudson High School JROTC

The National Guard will visit the Hudson High School JROTC on Tuesday, September 26, at 7:30 a.m. They will bring a military Humvee and howitzer artillery gun, and fire blank rounds from the canon at the beginning of the first, second, third and sixth periods. The National Guard also will provide meals, ready-to-eat (MREs) and talk with students about the careers that its Florida force offers. For more information, contact Maj. Timothy Root, senior army instructor of JROTC, at (727) 774-4255.


Retirement Celebration

Joan Incaudo

Joan Incaudo's retirement party has been rescheduled to Friday, September 22, at 5 p.m. It will be held at In the Loop Brewing Company, located at 3338 Land O' Lakes Blvd., in Land O' Lakes. If you would like additional information, please contact Tina Sammartino at 813-794-2594.


Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

This month is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Click here for information about childhood cancer. If you are interested, click here to learn more about what you can do to help.


Suicide Awareness Month

This month is also Suicide Awareness Month. Click here for more information.


Attendance Awareness Month

September is Attendance Awareness Month. Click here for more information, or visit www.attendanceworks.org.


Vicki Rowland, I wanted to let you know I enjoyed working with you. After being up for over 24 hours, you were so kind and patient and treated everyone with such respect. Qualities that are hard to find in day to day life and harder to possess under pressure. Thank You on behalf of all the evacuees and the assigned shelter workers. -Cheri Hill

Superintendent Browning and Gary Sawyer, I didn't get her whole name but Kerianne from the NWEST garage was amazing this morning at RRMHS! Hustle, kindness, confidence and cool, I can't say enough how she almost singlehandedly loaded her bus and took off to take folks home to wherever they needed to go (and many didn't know where they were going...) she made me proud and I wanted to recognize her. Dianna, Gary and Cathy (I don't have Ms. Rooney's email), Keri represented terrifically today! (I hope to work with her again someday.) -George Papaemanuel

Superintendent Browning, I wanted to thank a few members of your staff who worked diligently from the very beginning when we arrived to register for shelter at Seven Oaks Elementary to the very end of Hurricane Irma and to Congratulate them with an exceptional job! Well done! Ms. Shirley Ray, principal at Seven Oaks Elementary, is truly our community heroine in Wesley Chapel! Upon my arrival at the SOES shelter, I was hesitant and scared as I had never felt the need to ever evacuate my home before, but Irma was coming to us as a category 4, so I packed my children and my elderly parents and headed towards an unknown situation...I was greeted immediately at the gate of Seven Oaks Elementary by the principal herself. Ms. Ray greeted me and my family with an open heart and an open home.  Ms.Ray was attentive, professional, nurturing and caring.  During our stay, she walked to each and every one of the families who were seeking shelter to make sure their needs were met and they had the necessary resources to make it thru the storm.  She did this on Saturday.  She did this on Sunday and she did this on Monday again as we exited after the storm had passed us, with the same smile I was greeted with upon arrival.  It didn't matter she hadn't probably slept in the last 72 hrs and it didn't matter that she put her own family needs aside to volunteer and to care for our community. A big shout out to her entire staff at hand, specifically the assistant principal of SOES, Mr. Norman Graham, who assisted with registration, in the cafeteria distributing meal tickets, kept open communication to us at all times and was present for anyone who needed anything!  Brian Prescott and Stephen Peterson who were right there with Ms. Ray 100% of the time, giving their time and effort as they worked so hard that every time we turned around, one of them was there answering our questions, checking in on us and making sure we felt safe.  I honestly felt like I had just stayed in a 5-star hotel. The amenities were clean, we never lost power, three meals provided a day and security at hand at all times. I felt safe.  I felt sheltered and honestly, I felt blessed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Ms. Shirley Ray and the SOES shelter staff!  An experience as unpredictable and as unfathomable as having to take shelter from Hurricane Irma proved to be an experience that left me with a big smile on my face even thru the storm. Thankfully, when I arrived home, I realized my home was spared from any damages and that as a community we Survived! -Damaris Diaz, LMSW, School Social Worker

Land O' Lakes Teen Spends Week Helping Others Clean Up - Dylan Hoch, 15, with the help of some buddies, spent the week off from school doing some heavy lifting to help others in wake of Hurricane Irma.

Tax Collector Fasano, Not sure what interactions you might have with the Pasco County storm shelters, but I wanted to express our sincere thanks to all involved for this service.  We found ourselves at Longleaf Elementary School during Hurricane Irma.  This was the first time (in 32 years) that we thought the shelter might be the wisest choice.  The staff (school personnel, S.O. team, Nat. Guard and all volunteers) were terrific.  These folks went out of their way to try to assure that everyone had what they needed and that all were as comfortable as one could be under these unusual circumstances.  They received many inquires, and did what they could to fulfill those inquiries, and normally, with a smile.  They all took time to talk with those being sheltered there and all tried to make the entire situation as best as one could expect. I plan on sending a letter of thanks, along with some school supplies to the principal at that particular school.  All of those that were assigned to Longleaf Elementary during the storm should hold their head proud as they each went above and beyond their expected duties. I wish, somehow, we could Thank each of the folks individually! -John Schroeder

Superintendent Browning, My manager (Evelyn Babilonia) and I worked the shelter at TEWMS from Friday till Monday and we wanted to give a shout out to our principal, Rachel Fowler.  She is new to us as of the end of last year and we cannot say enough good about how she handled the situation with Irma.  She was calm, precise, compassionate while controlling the staff, volunteers and “guests”.  She empowered every one of us to finish tasks assigned with clear direction, all the while having left her own home in Pinellas county with fear of it not being there when she went home.  We never saw her take a break or sleep...We are proud to say we work for her.  I have been in the system 16 years and have never been happier or more proud of any principal. -Laura M. Smith, Asst. Manager/Café, Thomas E. Weightman Middle School

Fai Fai Ho, Thank you so much for everything you, Principal Aimee and everyone else did to help keep us safe. I'm so glad I got to see you again, despite the circumstances. I would love to come help get the school ready for the students if I am needed. Please let me know. It would be a privilege to come help. You all went well above and beyond. So proud of you all. Please pass my message and I can't wait to come hear your students sing! -Arlette Levin

Food and Nutrition Services Staff, I have never been more proud to be a part of Pasco County Schools Food and Nutrition Team!  To say that what you all did during Irma was amazing would be a complete understatement.  Let me share a few nameless examples:

  • A manager just finished working a Saturday evening shift at one shelter only to receive a call that her school would be opening as a shelter in two hours.  She dropped everything, ran home to pick up her son and an overnight bag, and headed out to her school.  She was up half of the night getting things ready for breakfast in the morning.
  • I called a manager on Saturday night and asked if she could help move some food from her school to a shelter school.  She said she needed to think for a minute,  She told me she lived in a mobile home and had her van full of personal possessions because she did not know if she would have a home to return to.  She offered to empty some things out of her van so that she could take food to the other shelter.  I thanked her, but told her absolutely not, that we would find other arrangements.
  • An FNS employee evacuated her mobile home and went with her daughter to a shelter.  A tree fell on her home and destroyed it Sunday night, but she still showed up on Monday to work another shift.
  • An FNS manager lost her best friend to cancer and the memorial service was last Friday.  She was called to open a shelter on Saturday, and she went to her school without any hesitation.  She stayed there through the weekend, transferred her leftover food to another shelter on Monday, and offered to help prepare dinner there for the remaining shelter residents. She hadn’t even had time to grieve her loss.
  • More than one manager was in an evacuation zone.  They reported to their schools to get things organized, then ran home to quickly pack some things and secure their homes, and then returned to the shelter to provide meals for other evacuees.  Numerous FNS staff members that had to evacuate their homes chose to help serve in our shelters.  Many had their family members volunteering as well!
  • I called an FNS employee to come work at a shelter that was receiving a large number of evacuees in a very short period of time.  When I asked how soon he could get to the school, he asked if he had time to shave first!  He dropped everything and headed straight to the school.
  • A shelter manager was told she would be receiving 2000 evacuees within 2-3 hours so she rallied the troops to have dinner ready for them.  Another manager, her principal and the National Guard all helped transport food from their school to that shelter school so they would have enough food.  They were ready, but the people didn’t come that night.  The next day, I had to call the second manager to say that her school would be opening as a shelter.  Once again, the manager and the National Guard moved the food back to her own shelter school.  All with a smile and a positive attitude.

All day Saturday, our specialists, district FNS leaders and numerous managers were moving food from schools to shelters that were at or exceeding capacity. Specialists were even moving food on Sunday morning as the winds were picking up and tornados were spotted in the area. Countless managers and FNS staff members of schools that were not shelters gave of themselves to assist their counterparts at shelters. And even some of our FNS District office staff members showed up at shelter sites to prepare food, serve meals and clean up...To each of you that served, I say a heartfelt thank you.  I am truly humbled and honored to work with such a selfless group of people with such caring, serving hearts!  You are my heroes! -Julie Hedine, RD/LDN, SNS, Director, Food and Nutrition Services

This morning, I just happened to answer the phone when a Mrs. Munez, a parent, called. She stayed in Mrs. Sara Cole’s room during Irma. She and her family were truly grateful to have a safe place to be. Mrs. Munez was genuinely appreciative that the classroom was made available and she hoped everything got back to where it was supposed to be. She is so aprreciative of Mrs. Cole and her class sharing their classroom that she would like to buy them pizza or a treat this Friday. -Lorelei Tinti


Pasco County School Board and Superintendent Browning, Thank each of you you so very much, all of our unbelievably amazing admin, staff, custodians, and volunteers who in our community's time of need jumped quickly into action providing shelter, meals, and supported so many in our community after a terrifying natural disaster. Now, just a few days later, our schools have welcomed back our children and are still continuing to help so many recover. Absolutely incredible. Pasco has shown the true definition of community thru this hard time for so many, please accept our gratitude, and apology for not delivering our thanks and appreciation in person this evening. -Denise Nicholas, President, Pasco County Council PTA

Sara Pabst, To those responsible at New River Elementary School for opening and managing the shelter during Hurricane Irma I want to take this time to give you a BIG thank you for your kindness and professionalism in handling the large influx of those individuals that were desperate for somewhere to go. This site was one of the last sites Tippecanoe Village heard about and many of our seniors were NOT going to go and wanted to stay home and take a chance with the hurricane. As time elapsed they became more anxious and we convinced many to go to your site. I took and friend over with her cat as she was becoming very anxious and wanted only a shelter to go to. I might say, I was very impressed with those individuals that assisted us in settling her in. I realize many of those at the site gave up their valuable time to volunteer to work the shelters, bless your hearts. We are a very fortunate city, county and we all know that many prayers brought us through. I am sure I speak for all those from Tippecanoe Village that took shelter at your location. THANK YOU ALL!! If I had not already been committed in taking care of my 95-year-old father I would gladly have volunteered to assist. God Bless you all! -Wanda Stevens

Superintendent Browning, Joe and I have been discussing our shelter experience at Fivay High School. There are many outstanding, noteworthy people to share with you who helped selflessly during this time. We want to give a shout out to Christina Stanley! She was fabulous! She had everything planned out and ready to execute and worked tirelessly to take care of our Hudson Community! Danielle Lawerence was all over that school helping folks in need! She was very accommodating and always had a smile on her face. There was a gentleman, Brian Clement, who rises to the top when we keep discussing about our shelter duty experience. He is the plant manager of the school. The man never stopped. He came to the aid of so many during this event. He always met the call with a smile, calm demeanor and absolute professionalism! He did everything and was such a nice guy too! We heard his name over and over on the radio. He made our time as shelter staff so much more peaceful and smooth! You have amazing employees at FHS! Our Hudson Community is so very blessed! -Rebecca and Joseph Musselman

Mr. Paul Collette from Port Richey, came into our office to thank each of you for excellent service. Paul was recently evacuated and stayed at Fivay, he said he was so impressed with the way he was treated and the way everyone treated each other. Paul stated that everyone worked together and he can't thank you all enough! -Tracy Raisor, Executive Assistant to Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano

Superintendent Browning, I was a "resident" of the emergency shelter opened at Sunlake High for those fleeing from Hurricane Irma. After weighing the risks, my husband and I chose to seek shelter along with my 83 year old mother and two friends who came to stay with us (thinking Lutz would be safe after fleeing the potential St. Pete storm surge). I want to commend the entire team at Sunlake.  In our two-day stay, I saw people wait patiently in line for food and the restrooms, appreciative of a safe place to ride out the storm. What could have been a terrifying, miserable experience, was made tolerable by the competent staff and volunteers. They were organized, patient and friendly. We were fed well, entertained with movies and  exceptional wifi connectivity, and provided continual communication on instructions along with updates on the changing weather conditions over the PA system. The "residents," in turn, reflected the calm demeanor of the Sunlake staff. I'd specifically like to mention Doug Elias and Adrian Anthony. Mr. Elias was a constant presence, showing leadership in all of his interactions. Mr. Anthony was the perfect counterpart, maintaining order through humor and personality, in the cafeteria during meals. Please be sure to recognize the team who tirelessly worked the Sunlake High Emergency Shelter. They deserve kudos for a job well done! -Jim and Alexandra Lange

Christine Flanagan, My name is William J. Flanagan and I live in Tropical Acre Estates in Zephyrhills. I and many of our residents went to Raymond B. Stewart Middle School for shelter during the hurricane. It was an experience that Ms. Shae L. Davis and her teachers and volunteers performed above and beyond any expectations. They were quick to give assistance and comfort to many persons well over 60+ years. I only wish I knew all the names of the team so I could thank them personally. Please let everyone involved of the excellent job they did. Thank You so much! Please publish this note if possible. -Bill Flanagan

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)