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Latest updates for the Marion County School Board!

 

 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018 12:00 AM

People outraged by Nancy Stacy's Facebook posts

School Board member later said ‘whore’ comments and Bill Cosby defense were part of an anti-troll strategy

Ocala City Council President Matt Wardell has publicly encouraged people to attend Tuesday night’s School Board meeting to protest board member Nancy Stacy’s recent Facebook posts, in which she complains that men are being destroyed by “whores” and defends Bill Cosby.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018 12:00 AM

Bobby James wants grievance board for school workers

A place to be heard

School Board member Bobby James officially launched his last 90 days in office on Wednesday, winding down his 11 years on the School Board and five decades in education.

James, who did not seek re-election for his District 3 seat, announced recently that one of his last missions is to create a grievance board — preferably made up of citizens and a School Board member — to which employees can air concerns without fear of retaliation.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018 12:00 AM

New CDL college course in Ocala trains truck drivers

The School District, which operates the post-secondary program, launched the eight-week course in response to a growing need for local truck and bus drivers.

The snow began falling sporadically as one student carefully guided an 18-wheeler along a mountain road. Without warning, the driver faced near whiteout conditions caused by a passing blizzard.

That was just one of many scenarios students faced Tuesday while driving 18-wheelers on a hi-tech simulator. It was the second day of the new Commercial Vehicle Driving course at Marion Technical College, formerly known as Career, Technical & Adult Education, on State Road 200 in Ocala.


Monday, August 20, 2018 12:00 AM

Military academy back on School District meal contract

Charter school backer still does not like agreement, “but we wanted to make sure the cadets were fed.”

Marion Military Academy officials surrendered their fight with the School District and signed a full meal contract so cadets will continue to receive breakfast and lunch uninterrupted.

The news came less than a week after the School Board denied the food service contract with Marion Military Academy officials, who struck out 10 of 19 clauses that are required by Florida law in a standard template contract.


Friday, August 17, 2018 12:00 AM

State ed board approves Evergreen plan

Principal Wayne Livingston will remain at the helm

The state Board of Education has approved Marion County Public Schools’ turnaround plan of Evergreen Elementary School, agreeing to allow Principal Wayne Livingston to remain at the helm.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018 12:00 AM

School district at odds, again, with Marion Military

The academy will not sign a standard contract for food service. Where will breakfast and lunch come from after this week?

The School Board on Tuesday denied a food service contract with Marion Military Academy, whose representative wants to strike 10 of 19 clauses required by Florida law in a standard template agreement.


Monday, August 13, 2018 12:00 AM

School tax back on the ballot

Brings in about $18 million per year

There is a social media blitz urging voters to renew the 1 mill school property tax, which generates about $18 million annually to bolster arts and vocational programs and to pay teachers needed to meet state class size mandates.


Sunday, August 12, 2018 12:00 AM

School starts Monday; be mindful, motorists

District projects 43,181 students to start

Drivers need to beware Monday morning: Law enforcement agencies will be out in full force monitoring school zones for the first day of the 2018-19 school year.


Friday, August 10, 2018 12:00 AM

At Forest after school shooting, a room with a new view

C-212, site of the April incident, where a teen was injured, is now a student sanctuary.

“The Room,” as Forest High School students called it late last school year, is the classroom where a former student fired a shotgun blast through the door, injuring one student and causing a schoolwide panic.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018 12:00 AM

Schools spokesman Christian wins high PR honor

Ocala chapter is state association’s best

Kevin Christian, the school district’s director of public relations, has won the distinguished Doris Fleischman Award, given to one of the state’s 1,200 public relations professionals for unrecognized contributions to the profession.


Friday, August 3, 2018 12:00 AM

Calling all teachers: District scrambles to fill open slots

Classes begin Aug. 13

Marion County Public Schools will open the 2018-19 academic year still needing dozens of educators. As of Friday, just 10 days before the first bell rings, the district had 93.5 open positions. That’s down from 104 vacancies at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year and 96 in 2016-17.


Thursday, August 2, 2018 12:00 AM

Interview on WOCA

Interview with Larry Whitler on WOCA - click and watch the recorded interview


Sunday, July 29, 2018 12:00 AM

School grades: How much do they matter?

They are important for schools at the top and bottom of the scale. What about the rest?

Florida issued its annual batch of school grades last month. Each elementary, middle and high school got an A, B, C, D or F.

Those grades certainly matter if a school consistently earns a D or an F. According to state law, such low performers risk being closed, converted to charter schools or turned over to an outside operator.


Friday, July 27, 2018 12:00 AM

Public-private partnership for teen mom program?

Such a move could save $100,000 per year

The school district recently pitched an idea to lease out a newly renovated 8,800-square-foot facility to a private day care provider that would supervise children in the Young Parent Program and simultaneously train students who are studying early childhood education.

Though just an idea at this point, with no concrete details on how such a public-private partnership would work, district officials say they believe the plan could save the district $100,000 in salary money.


Thursday, July 26, 2018 12:00 AM

School district has more capital needs than its budget can handle

‘When you have 7 million square feet of space to take care of, it takes an enormous amount of money just to maintain them.’

It looks like prospectors are digging for gold inside the Belleview Middle School courtyard. Mounds of dirt dot the landscape as crews repair buckling sidewalks and a sinking foundation.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018 12:00 AM

School district, academy still at odds

Superintendent says it needs a new plan. Marion Military says it doesn’t

Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier urged the School Board again on Tuesday to shut down Marion Military Academy, the county’s only charter high school.

Despite the plea, the same three board members who supported Marion Military Academy at a July 19 work session— Nancy Stacy, Angie Boynton and Kelly King — all once again voiced support for the school.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018 12:00 AM

Schools budget: $15.6M more than last year

Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier unveiled her tentative 2018-19 budget on Tuesday, a working budget that will be combed over and tweaked by the School Board during several August workshops.

Maier and her administrative team had big plans back in February when they unveiled a robust staffing plan to the School Board. During the last several months, Maier and the board have sparred over her administrative reorganization.


Monday, July 23, 2018 12:00 AM

No homework' policy gets bad grade

Teachers feel micromanaged. The superintendent feels misunderstood. Clarity is coming for 2018-19

The School Board is considering a policy to protect elementary school teachers who want to assign homework. The move comes one year after Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier issued her controversial “no homework” mandate.

The board has suggested that Maier’s policy amounts to micromanaging. Members want to make sure educators can’t be punished for doing what they think is best for their students.


Monday, July 23, 2018 12:00 AM

Back to school: From Family Access to Skylert, information is key

Marion County Public Schools has been offering a districtwide student information system called Family Access for four years now and officials urge parents to sign up before school starts back on Aug. 13 for the 2018-19 school year.

The system has been gradually upgraded to offer parents and students more information, easy access and more tools since it was launched in 2015.


Thursday, July 19, 2018 12:00 AM

Now in the spotlight: Oakcrest Elementary

If it doesn’t earn a C this year, it could be closed or turned over to an outside company

The School District will start a series of meetings with Oakcrest Elementary School parents late next month now that school is under the most severe oversight from the state Department of Education.

If the school does not receive a C grade after next spring’s state exams, the district must decide whether it will close the school, turn it over to a charter school company, or hire an outside curriculum operator to run the school.

The news comes much earlier in the school year than it did when Evergreen Elementary School faced the same options in 2017-18. The district waited until January to inform the board of the options, prompting a large divide between members and Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier.


Thursday, July 19, 2018 12:00 AM

Marion Military doesn't make the grade, but remains open

Board backs off threat to close academy if it didn’t score better than D

A divided School Board on Thursday back peddled from its threat to close Marion Military Academy for the 2018-19 school year if the school grade did not improve to a C.

When grades came out a few weeks ago, the charter high school’s grade remained a D for the six straight year. Despite the board’s warning last year, board members Kelly King, Nancy Stacy and Angie Boynton said they felt Marion Military Academy is showing signs of progress.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018 12:00 AM

Time to take the 'shot' before the back-to-school buzzer

With less than a month before school starts, it is immunization time and the local health department has scheduled five clinics.

The Florida Department of Health in Marion County will provide five opportunities for parents to get their children immunized before school launches for the 2018-19 school year in fewer than four weeks.

Health department officials say back-to-school immunizations clinics with be offered daytime, evening and weekend hours in July and August to ensure students can get needed shots before classes start.


Monday, July 16, 2018 12:00 AM

More than 3,800 students attend summer programs

The camps ranged from voluntary pre-kindergarten and virtual school to credit recovery and third-grade reading. Some of them are geared to help prevent “summer slide.”


Tuesday, July 10, 2018 12:00 AM

School district HQ now on back burner

Money will be spent ‘hardening’ campuses, instead

School officials have suspended plans to build a new 93,000-square-foot district headquarters and will focus instead on costly safety upgrades needed at many of the district’s 50 school campuses.

Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier said the need for better campus security, or what is called ’hardening,” outweighs plans for the new headquarters.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018 12:00 AM

Marion school grades: The good, the bad and the ugly

District rises to a B, but only five schools raised their grades

When school grades were announced by the state Department of Education on Wednesday there was good news and bad news to report.

While the Marion County school district’s grade improved from C to B, 11 of the district’s 31 elementary schools were placed on the state’s Bottom 300 watch list.


Monday, June 25, 2018 12:00 AM

School officer plan settled

3 law enforcement agencies will provide SROs at 51 schools for 2018-19

The School Board decided Monday to staff all 51 school campuses with certified law enforcement officers, called school resource officers, in August, and then explore cheaper security alternatives for the 2019-20 school year.


Thursday, June 21, 2018 12:00 AM

In Ocala, school safety bogs down over money

Police department will consider reducing its price for resource officers

The School Board on Thursday inched closer to creating its state-mandated school security plan for 2018-19, though it will be early next week before members will have the information needed to make a final decision.

The process has bogged down over money.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018 12:00 AM

Petitioner seeks Nancy Stacy's ouster

School Board member accused of being a bully

A former state child protection investigator is circulating a petition calling for School Board member Nancy Stacy to resign because of her public verbal attacks against Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier and her social media “bullying” of Marion County residents.


Friday, June 15, 2018 12:00 AM

Struggling schools shine on tests

But will that be enough to boost grades?

Four of Marion County’s worst performing schools made great gains on this year’s Florida Standards Assessments, with each school averaging 44-percentage-point gains in proficiency, or a 6-point gain on average on each of the seven state tests.


Thursday, June 14, 2018 12:00 AM

Middle schoolers fare well on state tests

‘I think this shows what we are doing is working.’

Marion County middle school students showed the greatest improvement in the county on this year’s Florida Standards Assessments in language arts, math and science combined, according to results released by the Florida Department of Education on Thursday.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018 12:00 AM

Students soon will have new option for texting tips

Young people said during focus groups that the fact the hotline is anonymous is one reason it is appealing. Text-A-Tip will launch locally Aug. 13. The number is 352-877-2838.

The Marion County Children’s Alliance will launch a new anonymous texting hotline in mid-August that will target middle- and high-school students with the hope they will report illegal activity and suicide threats among their peers.


Thursday, June 7, 2018 12:00 AM

Clock ticking on school safety plan

‘We were ahead of everyone in the state (when it came to plans for security.) Now we are behind.’

School Board members on Thursday indicated that they may be willing to arm employees at some elementary schools under the state Guardian Program instead of paying for certified law enforcement officers at every school in 2018-19.

The news comes after the school district learned the cost to hire 55 law enforcement officers, including 37 new ones, to man the 50 school campuses would be $5.3 million. That cost is about $2 million more than the district says it can afford without serious cost-cutting that would affect classrooms.


Monday, June 4, 2018 12:00 AM

Deputy school superintendent announces retirement

Craig Ham, the deputy school superintendent over operations, will retire June 30, about five months before his planned retirement.


Friday, June 1, 2018 12:00 AM

Class of 2020: Halfway through high school

The Star-Banner has been following this group of students since they started kindergarten in 2007

Some of the teenagers arrived to the annual gathering in their own cars. One had to leave quickly because he had to be at work. Some students stood with their parents and texted, while two boys chatted about their classes and what they planned to do after graduation in 2020.

It seems like yesterday that these students were each about 5 years old. It was the summer of 2007, just weeks before they started kindergarten, when they arrived at the Star-Banner for the first time.


Thursday, May 31, 2018 2:24 PM

District to consider increasing Extended Day fees

The school district says the increase would raise nearly $400,000 more in the 2018-19 school year

Ann Simmons stood recently near the Saddlewood Elementary School cafeteria doorway. One ear listened to a reporter’s questions while the other was trained on the rising chatter of about 160 children scattered in groups.


Wednesday, May 30, 2018 12:00 AM

Principal changes at 14 schools

The moves are a result of restructuring, retirement or other departures.

Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier on Wednesday announced principal changes at 14 schools for 2018-19. The moves are a result of restructuring, retirement or other departures.
The changes, which take effect on July 1, affect six elementary schools, two middle schools, two combination schools and four high schools. There will be five first-time principals, school district spokesman Kevin Christian noted in a press release.


Thursday, May 24, 2018 12:00 AM

School system honors its volunteers

They put in 142,000 hours during 2017-18

More than 5,000 school volunteers fanned out across Marion County in 2017-18 to work for free at one of the district’s 51 schools. These volunteers donated more than 142,000 hours, providing the district with a minimum of $1.14 million in free labor.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018 12:00 AM

Ocala, School Board settle seven-year dispute over stormwater fees

The School Board agreed it was time to stop paying thousands of dollars annually for attorneys to fight the complicated issue in court. School Board member Nancy Stacy said she has struggled with her decision. But in the end it was the best decision for the district to approve the agreement.

A seven-year bitter dispute between the city of Ocala and Marion County School Board came to an end on Tuesday.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018 12:00 AM

School Board finally approves Maier's staffing plan

The School Board on Tuesday night finally passed Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier’s district-level staffing plan, which had been blocked by the board several times since April due to concerns about cost and the structure of the district’s top administration.

The board tabled the district plan once and outright denied the wish-list document two weeks ago. The document is typically approved by the board in the spring without debate to allow the district time to build a balanced budget.


Sunday, May 20, 2018 12:00 AM

Food program keeps kids fed during summer

Model service that others would like to imitate

During the school year, students from low-income homes get free breakfast and lunch on campus. On Fridays they are sent home with backpacks full of food to cover Saturdays and Sundays.


Monday, May 14, 2018 12:00 AM

Magic Bark Bus' helps kids care for animals

Project of the local Humane Society

Just like the hundreds of dogs and cats it rescues each year, the Humane Society of Marion County recently saved a 17-year-old shuttle bus and transformed it into teaching laboratory for children.


Sunday, May 13, 2018 12:00 AM

Grad section: 10 NMS semifinalists from Marion

7 from Vanguard, 3 from West Port

Ten local students have been chosen as semifinalists in the elite National Merit Scholarship Program. That means these students scored in the top 3 percent of 1.6 million entrants.


Thursday, May 10, 2018 12:00 AM

Graduated schedule should ease stress

There is time to attend all public school ceremonies if you wish

Graduation time can be hectic, especially when two students in the same family are receiving diplomas on the same night across town from the other.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018 12:00 AM

Company gets OK to run Evergreen if needed

School Board unanimously agrees on Educational Directions

The School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved Kentucky-based Educational Directions to operate Evergreen Elementary if the struggling school does not improve its grade to a C.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018 12:00 AM

School Board still unsatisfied with admin plan

Members want budget numbers for district-level staffing

The School Board on Tuesday shot down Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier’s district-level staffing plan, a wish-list document the board usually passes in the spring without debate to allow the district time to build a balanced budget.

Until this year, the board members had passed the plan without incident and waited until summer budget workshops to roll up their sleeves and analyze the final document. The final budget and staffing plan will be based on available funding. Every year, the district cuts positions that the board originally approves in those plans to balance the budget.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018 12:00 AM

Student asks school leaders to be civil

‘I saw something, so I’m saying something.’

A 13-year-old middle school student who has been bullied most of his school life eloquently told the School Board on Tuesday that members are not treating each other in accordance with the board-approved Student Code of Conduct.

Robert King, a Belleview Middle eighth-grader, spoke during the public comment portion of the board meeting. He was referencing the feud between the district administration and board, mostly between Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier and board member Nancy Stacy.


Monday, May 7, 2018 12:00 AM

Kentucky company could lead Evergreen

Committee recommends Educational Directions if school fails to earn a C

Kentucky-based Educational Directions is the School District’s top pick to operate Evergreen Elementary if the struggling school does not improve its grade to a C.


Monday, May 7, 2018 12:00 AM

Charter school company drops appeal

Charter Schools USA, a national for-profit company, had applied to open locally for the 2018-19 school year. The school board denied the application in October, leading to an appeal that has now been called off.

A charter school company fighting to build a mega for-profit school in Marion County decided it will no longer battle the local School Board, which denied the agency’s application last year.


Thursday, May 3, 2018 12:00 AM

At charter schools, who pays for officers?

The schools themselves? The district?

A debate about whether the school district should pay for law enforcement officers at charter schools and other alternative program sites has erupted in the aftermath of the Forest High School shooting.

Ocala police Chief Greg Graham said the new state law is clear: The district is on the hook for the cost of officers at all schools, including charter schools and alternative learning sites.

But school district officials say charter schools receive state security funding and should pay for their officers, commonly called school resource officers or SROs, themselves.


Monday, April 30, 2018 2:46 PM

Editorial: Stop the School Board nastiness

On a night when the Marion County School Board was supposed to be focused on the aftermath of the Forest High shooting and our children’s safety, School Board member Nancy Stacy used a board meeting as a platform to — once again — unleash a tirade of invective at Superintendent Heidi Maier.


Sunday, April 29, 2018 12:00 AM

Jim Ross column: A modest proposal to improve School Board Meetings

Our School Board meetings have become sour, tedious affairs. Here is my modest proposal to lighten the mood at future sessions:


Wednesday, April 25, 2018 12:00 AM

School Board member Nancy Stacy blasts Superintendent

The war of words between School Board member Nancy Stacy and School Superintendent Heidi Maier reached an epic level Tuesday night, with Stacy reciting a 14-minute prepared speech that bashed her one-time friend.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018 12:00 AM

Stepping up: Volunteers tutor Evergreen Elementary students

‘We did find out that parents do care.’

Seventeen students sat at tables inside New Zion Missionary Baptist Church on Saturday while community leader Narvella Haynes saluted the Evergreen Elementary School elementary students for participating in 10 weeks of Saturday tutoring.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018 12:00 AM

Board funds 34 officers at elementary and charter schools

It was the first time that the board has been together since Friday’s shooting at Forest High School.

Four days after a gunman fired a shotgun blast through a Forest High School classroom door, injuring one student, the School Board approved $224,000 to pay for 34 new resource officers to protect elementary and charter schools for the remaining four weeks of the school year.


Monday, April 23, 2018 12:00 AM

Monday's message in Ocala: #ForestStrong

‘Sometimes superheroes do not wear capes; sometimes they are teachers.’

Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier said during an impromptu press conference on Monday that the teachers at Forest High School should be commended for a job well done during Friday’s shooting.


Monday, April 23, 2018 12:00 AM

Minute by harrowing minute: How Forest shooting unfolded

“Someone shot through my classroom door and hit a kid in the ankle,” English teacher Jennifer Hadden texted to her fiance, according to those messages, which she shared with the Star-Banner.

It was a typical Friday morning at Forest High. Students slowly drove through the school gate, passing those signature birthday wishes spelled out in red cups along the school’s front chain-link fence.


Friday, April 20, 2018 12:00 AM

Student shot, injured at Ocala's Forest High; suspect 'sorry'

Promising to protect the students, officials announce more resource officers

A 19-year-old man has been arrested and accused of shooting through a door and hitting a student in the ankle Friday morning at Forest High School.


Thursday, April 19, 2018 12:00 AM

Maier to School Board: Stop bullying my staff

‘These are all dedicated, hardworking members of the district administration.’

Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier warned the School Board on Thursday to stop bullying and intimidating administrators and personnel.


Thursday, April 19, 2018 12:00 AM

School Board still won't impose impact fees

Last collected 2010-11

The School Board agreed Thursday to continue suspending the collection of school impact fees — money from new residential construction to pay for school growth — for the eighth straight year.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018 12:00 AM

School Board taps brakes on district staffing plan

“I have concerns because I do not know how much all this will cost,” said school board member Bobby James.

The School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to table the district-level staffing plan, with board members agreeing they want more information on Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier’s ongoing reorganization of the district top administrators.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018 12:00 AM

Literacy Festival will be huge

Second annual event is testament to School Superintendent Heidi Maier’s love of reading

School Superintendent Heidi Maier’s love of reading is no secret. At most every School Board meeting, which are televised, she reads aloud a passage from a book. Sometimes the message is inspirational, sometimes it’s about a topic of the day, and sometimes it’s just a line from the book she is reading.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018 12:00 AM

Arnett to run for School Board District 5

Shelia Arnett files to run for Marion County School Board, District 5


Monday, April 2, 2018 12:00 AM

Will new teacher union law backfire?

The Florida Education Association is using the measure as a rallying point for recruiting

TALLAHASSEE — A move by the Republican-led Legislature that could weaken the Democratic-allied state teachers unions is showing signs of having the opposite effect as an epic election-year unfolds in Florida.


Monday, April 2, 2018 12:00 AM

Limited improvement in ESE matters

‘We still have more work to do.’

Marion County Public Schools has reduced the number of times it restrains and secludes mentally challenged students, though the state Department of Education reports that the district still needs to improve in many areas of Exceptional Student Education.


Sunday, April 1, 2018 12:00 AM

Brad Rogers: Once again, be for something

Well, I hope everybody is rested up and recovered from the 2016 election by now. It hasn’t been an easy year and a half, given all the rancor and ridiculousness that has followed — not to mention President Twitter and all that has engendered. But good news. Another big election is right around the corner.


Sunday, April 1, 2018 12:00 AM

Question: Is School District keeping its tax promise?

A look at class size, arts education, and more

Nearly five years ago, the Marion County Public School district was in a financial crisis: Schools shared music and art teachers; physical education, librarian and teacher aide positions were cut; and the district was the state’s worst class size violator.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018 12:00 AM

School District still needs more bus drivers

Despite enticements such as higher pay, more hours, benefits and paying for a recruit’s CDL, Marion County Public Schools does not have enough bus drivers. The School Board is examining more ways to attract drivers.

A year has passed since Marion County Public Schools announced that a national bus driver shortage had left the district in dire need of new recruits to keep the nation’s 84th largest school bus fleet moving.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018 12:00 AM

School safety added to property tax referendum renewal

Voters will decide in August if the 1 mill property tax be extended

The School Board voted Tuesday to add school safety to the 1 mill property tax referendum renewal that will go before Marion County voters at the August primary election.


Thursday, March 22, 2018 12:00 AM

4 education companies ready to step in at Evergreen

School Board will choose one in May

School Board Chairwoman Beth McCall announced Thursday that four vendors have been placed on a short list to be considered as Evergreen Elementary’s new curriculum provider in case the troubled school does not improve its standing.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018 12:00 AM

Career training: Marion schools dubbed 'Innovative District'

One of 10 district nationwide to be selected.

A local push to provide more vocational and career opportunities for high school students has landed Marion County Public Schools in the national spotlight. It recently received an “Innovative District” designation from the prestigious International Center for Leadership in Education.


Monday, March 19, 2018 12:00 AM

Stacy rips plans for school walkout day

‘Pure liberal fascism at its finest.’

Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier’s decision to turn a national “school walkout day” on April 20 into a civics lesson about the Bill of Rights has infuriated School Board member Nancy Stacy.

Stacy accused Maier in a Monday email of “bowing to the left (liberal agenda)” if she allows any protests to take place, adding that the superintendent is being used by the “political idiots of the left.”


Sunday, March 11, 2018 12:00 AM

School Board considers 'school safety' component

The board will vote March 27 whether to add a component to a referendum on the primary ballot later this year, which will seek another 1 mill tax to bolster school programs.

School Board Chairwoman Beth McCall announced Thursday that she would like to add school safety to the list of priorities on the referendum seeking another 1 mill tax to bolster many of Marion County’s school programs.


Monday, March 5, 2018 12:00 AM

College Park principal ousted

2 others disciplined in disputed reporting case

Laura Burgess has been removed as principal of College Park Elementary School for not promptly notifying the state Department of Children and Families when a kindergarten teacher admitted that she caused a minor injury to one of her students, according to a school district investigation report.


Sunday, March 4, 2018 12:00 AM

From Sparr to Harvard Yard: Senior is Ivy League-bound

North Marion H.S. student Elizabeth Kinard has overcome adversity and dreams of being a surgeon.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018 12:00 AM

District wants armed security on all campuses

‘People choose these targets because they do not expect to meet resistance.’

Marion County school officials want to have armed security on every school campus — whether it’s a law enforcement officer or specially trained employee — to protect students and staff in the event an active shooter incident.


Monday, February 26, 2018 12:00 AM

School district crisis team headed to Broward County

Director of psychological and social work services for local school district, and six other psychologists, are responding to call for help in aftermath of Valentine’s Day shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier is sending a team of psychologists to South Florida to help students and staff cope with the Valentine’s Day shooting that killed 17 at a Broward County high school.


Sunday, February 25, 2018 12:00 AM

Stacy's approach with Maier: Tough love or bullying?

The school superintendent has had it with the School Board member’s style

More than two years ago, Heidi Maier was a College of Central Florida professor teaching early childhood education. That was about the time Nancy Stacy, a feisty School Board member who tells it like it is and holds people accountable, convinced her to run for school superintendent.


Thursday, February 22, 2018 12:00 AM

District: High school walkouts allowed only on April 20

Students who walk out on any other day to protest the Parkland school shooting will face disciplinary action, officials say.

School Superintendent Heidi Maier will give high school students class time on April 20 to hold a safety rally as part of a national walkout event.


Thursday, February 22, 2018 12:00 AM

Good early signs as school testing approaches

Low-performing schools are improving; an A for the district?

Administrators are cautiously optimistic that the school district could improve from a C to a B — and maybe even an A — when the state issues district grades this summer.


Thursday, February 15, 2018 12:00 AM

S FL tragedy spurs Marion to fast-track school security

‘Yesterday, I was sad. Today, I am mad.’

School Superintendent Heidi Maier is fast-tracking the rollout of new security measures in Marion.

Local schools already have been putting pieces of the ALICE Protocol, as the new program is known, into place.

“With Wednesday’s shooting (at a high school in Broward County) we are expediting the timeline for this new approach. Thank you for being a helper who cares for those around them,” said a message sent Thursday morning to all school employees.

What does this mean? For starters, locked doors.


Thursday, February 15, 2018 12:00 AM

Rancor, and resolve, at School Board work session

‘What I have seen here today is disturbing’

During a work session punctuated by bickering and squabbling, the School Board on Thursday agreed to better monitor struggling schools and hopefully avoid another Evergreen Elementary-style debacle.

“I don’t need you to rephrase my questions,” board member Nancy Stacy said at one point to Chairwoman Beth McCall.
“I don’t like breaking the law, Mrs. McCall,” Stacy said at another point.

School Superintendent Heidi Maier questioned the credentials of 20 volunteer tutors for Evergreen kids.


Tuesday, January 30, 2018 12:00 AM

Community responds to Evergreen crisis

Saturday tutoring program is just Step One

Nearly a month ago after the future of Evergreen Elementary School became a major issue, West Ocala leaders are rallying in hopes of helping the school raise its grade to a C and stave off further state Department of Education intervention.


Sunday, January 28, 2018 12:00 AM

94.5 more school workers next year

Proposed 1.6% increase subject to adjustment

Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier’s administrative team on Monday unveiled its 2018-19 staffing plan, one that includes a 1.6 percent increase in manpower.


Friday, January 26, 2018 12:00 AM

Helene Hotaling named 2018 Teacher of the Year

Helene Hotaling, a Madison Street Academy for the Performing Arts third-grade teacher known for her love of her students, was named Marion County’s 2018 Teacher of the Year on Friday.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018 12:00 AM

School district explains Evergreen process

Denies School Board member Nancy Stacy’s accusation of operating in bad faith

Tensions ran high at Tuesday night’s School Board meeting as member Nancy Stacy accused the district and the state Department of Education of failing the students of Evergreen Elementary School.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018 12:00 AM

Marion School Board votes to hire outside company for Evergreen

Four of the five School Board members — Vice Chairwoman Angie Boynton, Nancy Stacy, Bobby James and Kelly King — supported hiring the outside company to run the school instead of shutting it down.

The Marion County School Board on Tuesday denied Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier’s request to close Evergreen Elementary School and then voted to hire an outside company to oversee the school’s curriculum, beginning in August.


Monday, January 22, 2018 12:00 AM

Questions raised about School Board members

Did attendance at Sunday gathering violate open meeting law?

There is a new twist in the ongoing Evergreen Elementary School saga.

On Sunday, School Board members Angie Boynton, Nancy Stacy and Kelly King attended, and spoke at, a community meeting about Evergreen. The board will vote Tuesday on how to handle the struggling school’s future.


Thursday, January 18, 2018 12:00 AM

Want to keep the school tax? Decide in August

Referendum goes on primary ballot; November card will be too crowded

As expected, the School Board on Thursday agreed to place a renewal of the 1 mill tax referendum on the 2018 primary ballot instead of the general ballot, where it was presented in 2014.


Thursday, January 18, 2018 12:00 AM

Evergreen might not close, after all

School Board majority wants private company to come in and run school

Evergreen Elementary appears to have won an 11th-hour reprieve. Four of the five School Board members support hiring an outside company to run the school instead of shutting it down.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018 12:00 AM

State: Evergreen must receive a C or close

The Florida DOE responded to an email from the Marion County Schools superintendent

The State Department of Education cannot give Evergreen Elementary School another year to improve, and unless the school receives a C grade this year then the district must close the school, turn it into a charter school or hire an outside company to run it.


Friday, January 12, 2018 12:00 AM

Marion high school graduation rate dips

Down 3.3 points from year prior

Marion County lost 5 percentage points on the state average in terms of its high school graduation rate, the second largest slide of the state’s 30 largest school districts, according to data released by the state Department of Education.


Thursday, January 11, 2018 12:00 AM

School Board boosts employee compensation

$5.4M total for benefits and pay

The School Board has approved additional compensation totaling $5.4 million for teachers and support personnel, including $607 more for each of the 5,500 employees to pay for the rising cost of health insurance and other benefits.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:00 AM

West Port's Hartman named rookie teacher of the year

5 finalists for top veteran teacher also announced

West Port High School biology teacher Michael Hay Hartman was named Marion County’s 2018 Rookie Teacher of the Year on Wednesday.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:00 AM

NAACP, others ask to keep Evergreen Elementary open

About 25 people gathered in the Evergreen media center to discuss the district’s announcement last week that it intends to close the school

The Marion County branch of the NAACP and the Governor’s West Ocala Neighborhood Revitalization Council met with School District officials on Wednesday, urging school officials to fight to save Evergreen Elementary School, which could be closed in June.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018 12:00 AM

Marion school employees must take child abuse reporting training

All Marion County school employees must take annual child abuse reporting training, effective immediately. The move comes just a few weeks after an elementary school principal was demoted for not promptly handling a child abuse allegation.


Sunday, January 7, 2018 12:00 AM

Schools will loom large on '18 ballot

Board wants to renew 1 mill tax and possibly seek elected superintendents

The School Board wants to place the 1 mill school tax referendum renewal on the primary election ballot in August because it fears the general election ballot will be overloaded with state constitutional amendments.


Thursday, January 4, 2018 12:00 AM

District might close Evergreen Elementary

Formal vote later this month; students would be sent to Reddick-Collier, Anthony, Sparr and South Ocala elementary schools in 2018-19

The district plans to close Evergreen Elementary School in June and relocate students and teachers to four nearby schools to prevent further state intervention and losing local control of the facility.

The plan calls for moving Evergreen’s students and teachers to Reddick-Collier, Anthony, Sparr and South Ocala elementary schools, effective July 1.


Paid for and approved by Shelia Arnett, Candidate for School Board District 5
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