Kurt S. Browning, Superintendent of Schools
January 11, 2019

Kurt S. Browning, Superintendent of Schools

January 11, 2019

Kurt S. Browning, Superintendent of Schools

January 11, 2019

Kurt S. Browning, Superintendent of Schools

January 11, 2019

Superintendent's Message

Over the last few weeks, both the federal and state commissions studying school safety after the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting have issued reports, findings, and recommendations.  Even before the MSD tragedy, we were working with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office to improve our school safety efforts.  As you know, Pasco County Schools was one of the first in the state to implement an Active Threat Plan (ATP), launching it at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.  All schools have completed at least three drills since then. We also have hired school safety guards for elementary schools, completed security assessments of all schools, required classroom doors to be locked during instructional time, required gates to be locked during the school day, increased mental health staff and improved responses to mental health concerns, and applied for grant funds to help us improve safety.  As we continue to enhance our schools’ safety, I want to remind all employees that anyone can activate the Active Threat Plan if they recognize that there is a violent intruder on campus.  That’s the #1 item under the ATP in your flip chart.  In addition, #5 says to call 911 to report active violence or injured persons, and then notify your site’s leadership or call the emergency line. We don’t want anyone to think that they can’t notify law enforcement if there is an active threat, imminent danger, or serious injuries at their work site. Student and staff safety is our number one priority, and we are continuing to make security enhancements throughout the district.

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Call for Science Fair Judges

Volunteers are needed to judge the Secondary Science and Engineering Fair on Februaty 2, at T.E. Weightman Middle, and the Elementary S.T.E.M. Fair on April 27, at River Ridge High.

If you can volunteer please complete the Judges Response form as soon as possible.


January is National Mentoring Month

With many worthy children on its waiting list, Big Brothers Big Sisters has embarked on a recruiting campaign in Pasco County to find caring adult volunteer mentors who would like to change the life of a child for the better, forever.

The oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the nation, Big Brothers Big Sisters Tampa Bay boasts extraordinary success with the youth in its programs. In 2018 they served 3,014 children. Of those children (Littles) who were matched with their mentors (BIGS) for at least a year, 98 percent were promoted to the next grade level, and 98 percent had no involvement in the juvenile justice system.

Big Brothers Big Sisters offers several programs to choose from in Pasco County, all which require only 4-8 volunteer hours a month. The community-based program enables the Big and Little (called a “Match”) to spend time together in the evening or on weekends enjoying activities that they choose. The school-based program is for matches that would prefer to meet one hour each week at the child’s school during the academic year.

Anyone interested in learning more about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister can attend a BBBS Orientation & Training session, offered three times each month throughout Pasco County. For the complete schedule, see below, or go here and follow the “Volunteer” links. No RSVP is required.

  • Monday, January 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at WellCare, 5113 US Highway 19, New Port Richey
  • Tuesday, January 29 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Wesley Chapel Honda, 27750 Wesley Chapel Blvd., Wesley Chapel
  • Saturday, February 2 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at New Port Richey Public Library, 5939 Main Street, New Port Richey
  • Monday, February 11 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at WellCare, 5113 US Highway 19, New Port Richey
  • Tuesday, February 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Wesley Chapel Honda, 27750 Wesley Chapel Blvd., Wesley Chapel

For more information, contact Deb Kristol-Irwin at DebK@bbbstampabay.org (or) 813-997-6881.


I-75 / SR 56 Diverging Diamond Interchange - Construction has started!

This project will reconfigure the I-75/SR 56 interchange between CR 54 and Cypress Ridge Boulevard in Pasco County.  The existing diamond interchange will be modified and converted to a diverging diamond interchange. This will help to reduce travel time for motorists in this rapidly growing area.

Construction has started! It is anticipated to take approximately 3 years to complete.

Watch a video of the planned improvements or click on the image.



2018 Summer Feeding Program

Congratulations to everyone who worked with the Summer Feeding program in 2018.

Not only did we serve more than 225,000 meals, but we have been awarded the prestigious Summer Breakspot Challenge Silver Trailblazer Award by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. This award recognizes sponsors that use targeted approach methods to increase meals served within their sponsorship.

In addition, the tremendous efforts of Donna Braxton and the R.B. Stewart Middle School team resulted in closing the meal gap in the Zephyrhills area and getting off the top 20 list. We are reaching the kids in need and will continue to do so!

Everyone’s continued hard work and efforts to increase participation has once again made Pasco one of the top programs in the state of Florida!

Congrats again to the amazing summer team. We look forward to starting again in a few short months!


Click flyer for details.


Teacher certification

Over the last year, Florida Association of School Administrators has prioritized the issue of highly effective and high impact teachers that have not passed all necessary certification exams before the required three years. This year, FASA is looking at legislation that could help administrators retain great teachers. To support this effort FASA needs to hear from every school.


2019 403(b) and 457(b) Maximum Allowable Contributions

Employees are encouraged to meet with their 403(b)/457(b) investment company representative at least once a year to review their voluntary retirement savings plan.  The maximum allowable contribution for all employees is set to the annual basic contribution limit. If you are increasing your contributions or intend to contribute more than the annual basic limit, ask your representative to submit a 2019 Maximum Allowable Contribution (MAC) Calculation form to Employee Benefits and Risk Management (EBARM) for processing.  When starting new 403(b) or 457(b) contributions, increasing, decreasing, or stopping existing contributions, it is important that you check your paystub to confirm that EBARM received and processed your request.  Due to timing, it may take one or two pay cycles before your requested change will appear on your paystub.  If you do not see the change on your paystub after two pay periods, email retirementsvcs@pasco.k12.fl.us for assistance.



Visit the Grant Opportunities Catalog

The purpose of the catalog is to provide information about funding opportunities that could benefit our students and schools. This catalog also will provide information on grant writing, tips for successful grant submissions, and how-to's for grant seekers. Click here to view.


New Way to Access Professional Counseling

Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has added text message therapy through Talkspace. Employees, retirees, and insurable dependents (18 years +) are able to take advantage of this fast-growing medium of professional therapy. Convenience and privacy are two of the most common reasons users cite for choosing this type of counseling. Talkspace is one more way for you to prioritize caring for yourself! To find out more about Talkspace, and all that is provided through your EAP, click here.


Influenza Update

In week 52, Influenza Llike Illness (ILI) activity continued to increase statewide and was above levels observed at this time in past seasons. Increases were observed in all age groups and regions, most notably in the southeastern region of the state and in children aged <18 years.

The Florida Department of Health reported widespread influenza activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While increases in ILI activity were observed statewide in week 52, the majority of counties continued to report mild influenza activity. Four counties reported moderate activity in week 52.

Two new outbreaks of influenza or ILI were reported, including one with laboratory evidence of influenza. A total of 61 influenza or ILI outbreaks have been reported so far this season. For a complete list of outbreaks reported so far this season.

No new influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported in week 52. Children, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at higher risk for complications from influenza infection. Influenza vaccination can be life-saving in children.

Consistent with the national trend, influenza A 2009 (H1N1) has been the most commonly identified influenza subtype at the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories so far this season. Influenza A (H3) and influenza B Yamagata lineage viruses have also been identified as co-circulating in Florida. Influenza vaccines are designed to protect against all of these viruses.

It’s not too late to get your flu vaccine. People who have not yet been vaccinated for the 2018-19 season should do so as soon as possible. Influenza vaccines are safe and are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from influenza and its potentially severe complications.

In addition to getting vaccinated, the Florida Department of Health also recommends you take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of influenza and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (if soap is not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • If you do get sick, stay home until fever-free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication).


Warning: Florida Blue Scam Calls

Please be aware of automated calls claiming to offer medical plans from Blue Cross or Blue Cross and Blue Shield. These calls are not from Florida Blue or anyone representing Florida Blue.  Florida Blue will not call to offer other health plans, require you to give financial or bank information, or require your entire social security number.  

How to know if Florida Blue is contacting you: https://www.floridablue.com/blog/how-florida-blue-contacts-you

If you have questions or concerns, you may contact Florida Blue’s customer service at 1-800-507-9820, or call Patty Nguyen, the onsite Florida Blue representative at (813) 794-2492.


Educator Passport Program

The Educator Passport Program was established to connect employees with local businesses that have generously agreed to offer special discounts to Pasco County Schools employees.

Is there a business you frequent and would like to see listed on the Educator Passport Program?  Would that business like free advertising? We are finding that the participant list is growing because of your referrals.  Let’s start off this New Year by letting businesses know about this employee/business participation program.  It’s free for them to advertise with us.  Where else can they reach out to over 10,000 people with their advertisement?  Please direct those interested to: http://www.pasco.k12.fl.us/comm/passport/

The latest group of Educator Passport Program (EPP) employee discounts has been posted to our district website. We have approved 12 new participants this time. View the new offers below by clicking here.

AVIS Car Rental
Budget Car Rental
Corporate Shopping Employee Discounts
Enterprise Car Rental
Hertz Car Rental
Homes for Heros
Limo Logic LLC
Outsmart Pest Management
The Hair Room at Avant Garde Salons

Trinity College of Florida
T&T Nails & Spa


Kids Safe Online Poster Contest for K-12 Students Nationwide

Each year, the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) hosts the Kids Safe Online Poster Contest for K-12 students nationwide. Students from across the country submit pieces of artwork that cover topics such as being safe online, good online security practices, cyber bullying, and how to be a good digital citizen. The winners of the contest are made into cybersecurity awareness posters and calendars that are distributed throughout the country in recognition of National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

The contest runs from Wednesday, September 26, until Friday, January 25, 2019.  Below are links to the contest guide and registration form that go over how to enter the contest and how to submit the artwork. Each entry must include a registration form.

Website:  https://www.cisecurity.org/ms-isac/ms-isac-toolkit
Guidelines and entry form:  https://www.cisecurity.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/MS-ISAC-Poster-Contest-and-Form.pdf

Please direct any questions to contest@msisac.org. All submissions and forms can be sent to contest@msisac.org as a scanned image, or can be mailed to the address below:

Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center
Education and Awareness Workgroup
31 Tech Valley Drive
East Greenbush, NY 12061




Visit ndbh.com select "login," "Employee Assistance Program" under 'Choose Your Program', use "pasco" for Company Code.



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LEAD Registration Now Open

We are excited to announce the opening of registration for LEAD, Pasco County Schools’ professional development program for aspiring leaders. LEAD is a 6- night program focused on maximizing leadership potential by enhancing skills, knowledge, and experiences. It is open to both instructional and non-instructional aspiring leaders of all levels. View more information and register by clicking here.


Florida Southern Information Session

There will be an information session at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 2, in the France Admissions Center at Florida Southern in Lakeland,  please click here. Spring Registration is open and there’s still time to register for the Spring 2 workshop which will run February 8 to 16. We also have spring sessions 3 and 4 with seats available. Our summer 2019 registration will open February 1. Classes fill up quickly, so early registration is recommended. Please click here to register and view the complete course schedule.To learn more about FSC's programs contact Kelly Levin at klevin@flsouthern.edu.


Earn your Master's Degree at Florida Southern

Whether you are a teacher ready to advance your career or you are thinking about switching careers to become a teacher, the FSC online Master of Education in Transformational Curriculum and Instruction will provide you with the knowledge and skills to become a classroom innovator and leader in the field quickly and conveniently. They also offer a Master of Arts program in Transformational Curriculum and Instruction for career changers. For more information click here or contact Kelly Levin at (863) 680-4914.


Florida Southern Offers Two Doctorate Degrees

The Doctor of Education (EdD) at Florida Southern prepares leaders for positions in administration, policy development, college and university teaching, and research. The curriculum includes broad topics addressing leadership and organizational theories, assessment and accountability practices, policy, politics, planning issues, research-driven decision-making, and policy analysis. They also offer a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. This program prepares educational leaders to teach in a higher education institution, focusing on Pre-k -12th grade teachers' preparation. Please click here for more information. You may also contact Kelly Levin at klevin@flsouthern.edu or call (863) 680-4914.


Crayola Educational and Creative Kits

Schools can now supply families with educational and creative kits designed by Crayola to support the implementation of family engagement strategies. These kits were designed to engage parents and their children in the learning process while igniting creativity. Each kit is unique in its contents, creating distinctive learning experiences for each child. Kit components include a six-page parent guide, six-to-eight top-of-the-line Crayola products that are unique to each kit, a keepsake frame for enforcing creativity in the home, as well as a two- to four-page educator’s resource booklet. To learn more about Crayola's Family Engagement Kits, please click here or call Matt Ditnes at 1-800-291-6020 Ext: 3116.



Online Professional Development Options Available Free to All Pasco County Teachers

In partnership with the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE), Pasco County Schools will accept in-service credit for many of the courses offered through select providers. For more information regarding courses that are accepted, and what in-service credit will be awarded, please refer to this document.

All courses offered through select providers are:

  • Available at no charge to Florida educators.
  • Self-paced via online learning.
  • Presented in a user-friendly format.


Professional Development Alternatives (PDA)

The Professional Development Alternatives (PDA) offers online modules designed to help educators become more proficient in responding to the various instructional and behavioral needs of each individual learner in order to maximize achievement of all students. The facilitated modules provide ongoing collaboration with colleagues and expert facilitators with specific start and end dates. The independent study modules allow self-paced learning.

The courses offered through PDA will be automatically added to your transcript in myPGS when we receive documentation from FDLRS that the course has been completed. Click here for more information.


Personnel Development Portal (PDP)

The Personnel Development Portal (PDP) offers a collection of independent study courses designed to provide high-quality professional development to Florida educators to increase their ability to respond to the needs of students with disabilities.

Each participant will need to submit the completed course information as an external credit request in myPGS in order ro receive in-service points. Click here for more information.



We need your help getting more good news out to the public and the media!

We want to be able to send out press releases frequently about fun, unique, and/or interesting school/department activities. It can be a special lesson, unique program, recognition, or an outstanding accomplishment. Remember, the media wants to cover activity, and they prefer covering the creation of things rather than the finished product. Small, community newspapers need about two weeks notice, and daily papers and TV stations need about a week.

Click here to submit a "Good News" Story!


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Business Development Week Education Day Luncheon

West Pasco Chamber of Commerce’s 26th Annual Business Development Week Education Day Luncheon will take place on Wednesday, January 16, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Marchman Technical College, 7825 Campus Dr., New Port Richey. Click here for more details.



Buy Two Days, Get Two Days Free at Universal Orlando Resort

Take your vacation to the next level at Universal Orlando Resort. Choose between three amazing theme parks with Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay water park. Universal Orlando Resort features spectacular on-site hotels, nightclubs, and more.

To take advantage of this great offer, go to TicketsatWork.com and create your account using your email address and your company code, "PASCOSCHOOLS" or call 800-331-6483 for customer service.



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Supt. Browning,

I just wanted to say a special thank you to Amy Mazurowski for going above and beyond all the time, she is always there if we have questions or need assistance. Recently she even went beyond that, she met with a student and parent we had at our school and has regularly checked in with us to see how he was doing at school. On Friday, December 21st she made a special trip out to Centennial Middle School to reward the student for great improvements in his behavior and academics. We as a school and as a district are very fortunate to have such a great team member so dedicated to helping ALL students be their very best.

Thank you Amy Maz!

Rick R. Saylor, Ed.D.
Centennial Middle School


Superintendent Browning,

On Wednesday, January 9, a terrible nightmare played out when an accident occurred involving a student and a staff member.  So many people went above and beyond to assist our students, staff and family. I would like to thank those for their outpouring of support.  They truly made a difference in the lives of many in the Buccaneer Nation!

  • Dr. Toni Zetzsche, Principal of RRHS, for sending Heather Ochs, Janene Sullivan, and Cindy Bond to help with supervision.
  • Dr. Christina Stanley, Principal of FHS, for sending Jennifer Greco-Ball.

These additional experienced staff members allowed the GHS administration to focus on the needs of our students and staff.   The support they provided was invaluable.

I would also like to thank the District Crisis Team members (Nicole Edelmann, Kelli Coile, Vanessa Rios, Jessica Williams, Katie Lamore and Melissa Weinhold) for the emotional support they provided our students and staff throughout the day.  Tammy Berryhill and Linda Cobbe were key in their efforts to coordinate various supports and communication.  The New Port Richey Police Department, as well as two good Samaritans, assisted immediately after the accident.

The GHS guidance student services team worked above and beyond to ensure  (Ann Donlon, Lauren Brewerton, Tiffany Burkette, Patrick McKay and Jeanette Edwards) students were assisted as needed.  The entire staff at GHS pulled together supporting their peers, students, and community members.  Finally, please let me thank the GHS administrative team (Amy Riddle, Rob Strasser, Laura Luter and Hilda Martin) for taking care of the school allowing me to be at the hospital with the family.

In the most challenging times, it is heart-warming to see so many team members pull together to ensure other’s needs are met.  We join together offering deepest hopes for those impacted in the accident and their families and friends.

Kim Davis
Gulf High School

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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)